Rio de Janeiro – Around 200 people are missing after a dam collapsed Friday in southeast Brazil near the city of Belo Horizonte, the fire service said in a statement.
There are fears the disaster, which unleashed a torrent of mud towards the town of Brumadinho, caused a number of deaths, with a fire services officer telling AFP accounts of "several" fatalities have been received.
In the statement, the fire service said it was confirming "the disappearance of approximately 200 people" after the collapse.
Brumadinho and its surrounding area was difficult for rescuers to access. The river of mud cut a swath across roads and through vegetation and farmland, damaging and destroying houses.
Helicopters were used to rescue "numerous" people trapped by the mud at various spots, the statement said.
In a separate statement, the environment minister said a crisis cell had been set up.
"The initial preoccupation of the federal government is the rescue of victims, giving support to the region, and protecting water-catchment areas," it said.