Israel sends rescue team to Brazil after dam collapse

Israel dispatched a team of first-responders to Brazil to help with rescue efforts following a dam collapse.

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli military said a search-and-rescue delegation left for Brazil on Sunday morning to assist the victims of a mining waste dam collapse. The dam collapse has claimed the lives of at least 40 and left hundreds missing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the aid in a Saturday evening call with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Netanyahu suggested immediately dispatching aid to the disaster site and assist in the search for survivors.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro thanked the Prime Minister and accepted his offer.

Hope fading

Hope that loved ones had survived a tsunami of iron ore mine waste from a dam collapse in Brazil was turning to anguish and anger over the increasing likelihood that many of the hundreds of people missing had died.

On Saturday night, the death toll stood at 40 dead with up to 300 people estimated to be missing. Throughout the day, helicopters flew low over areas buried by mud and firefighters worked to get to structures by digging.

Throughout Saturday, scores of families in the city of Brumadinho desperately awaited word on their loved ones as Romeu Zema, governor of Minas Gerais state, said that at this point most recovery efforts would entail pulling out bodies.

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On Saturday, rooftops poked above an extensive field of the mud, which also cut off roads. After the dam collapse, some were evacuated from Brumadinho. Other residents of the affected areas barely escaped with their lives.

“I saw all the mud coming down the hill, snapping the trees as it descended. It was a tremendous noise,” said a tearful Simone Pedrosa, from the neighborhood of Parque Cachoeira, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from where the dam collapsed.

Pedrosa, 45, and her parents dashed to their car and drove to the highest point in the neighborhood. “If we had gone down the other direction, we would have died,” Pedrosa said.

“I cannot get that noise out of my head,” she said. “It’s a trauma … I’ll never forget.”

In addition to the 40 bodies recovered as of Saturday night, 23 people were hospitalized, said authorities with the Minas Gerais fire department. There had been some signs of hope earlier Saturday when authorities found 43 more people alive.

The company said in a statement Saturday that while 100 workers were accounted for, more than 200 workers were still missing. Fire officials at one point estimated the total number at close to 300.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.