Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



WATER WORLD
Brazil dam burst like 'end of the world'
By Sebastian Smith
Paracatu De Baixo, Brazil (AFP) Nov 3, 2016


Jose Pascual thought the end of the world had come when red mud, pouring from a broken Brazilian mining dam, engulfed his village a year ago. In a way, he was right.

Twelve months from the deadly accident at an iron ore mine in Minas Gerais state, the Samarco company and its giant owners BHP-Billiton and Vale say they are putting the pieces back together.

Yet the way of life Pascual has known all his 76 years in the village of Paracatu de Baixo shattered beyond repair that day.

The disaster began in the afternoon of November 5, 2015, when a dam holding mining waste burst without warning about 17 miles (27 kilometers) up a small river from Paracatu.

Thirty two million cubic meters (42 million cubic yards) of sludge rushed down the valley, killing 19 people unable to get out of the way and smashing anything in the flood's path, starting with the adjacent village of Bento Rodrigues.

A helicopter reached Paracatu in time to warn villagers before their turn came.

"I was in the garden and my wife was putting clothes out to dry when they came," recalled Pascual, a lean, strong man, whose snowy hair was hidden under a battered Stetson. "They said: 'Get out of here!'"

Running uphill with the rest of his neighbors, Pascual heard the disaster before he saw it.

"It was the noise of a runaway train. Then we looked at what was coming," he said. "It was the color of the clay. There wasn't even water, just clay coming and this strong wind."

The sliding wall of mud tore apart or submerged orchards, houses, roads, cars, animals, trees.

"It was like the end of the world," Pascual said. "The lights went out."

- Neck deep in mud -

Pascual and his wife, whose 12 children live in other towns, were safe and their small house and plot of land, located on a slight rise, were spared.

But Paracatu was finished. A year later mud still clogs the main street. Mud sits heaped in roofless houses. Mud stains walls of the ruined church.

Pascual is hardly the quitting type, recounting how he waded back home through the mud to retrieve his wife's forgotten documents. "It was up to here," he said, pointing to his neck.

Even today, he tends his crops of manioc, onion, tomato and maize. Ever resourceful, he has grown his own tobacco for cigarettes that he rolls in dried maize leafs.

Yet the clock is running down.

Samarco says it will build a new Paracatu in a different location, with each inhabitant receiving a house equal to the one that was lost. A majority of residents have agreed to take the deal, although it means abandoning their ancestral home -- and Pascual is with them.

His house and crops may be intact, but too much else has been spoiled.

The river where he used to fish now runs red with mining waste. His two best cows were killed and so his production of round, white cheeses depends on two skinny survivors that he herds around the ruins. Income is down 75 percent.

Samarco says it could take until March 2019 before the new Paracatu is built.

In the meantime, Pascual tends the farm alone, making a journey of about an hour on weekends to see his wife. It's a lonely, sometimes spooky existence.

"Sometimes I spend the whole night awake. Any noise will wake me," he says.

And even if he could somehow hang on in the village, community life was always about more than mere survival.

"We've ended up without a bar where you can go to get a drink, just a tiny drink," he said mournfully.

"Yes, I want to leave."


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
WATER WORLD
Tajikistan begins building $4 bn mega-dam
Dushanbe, Tajikistan (AFP) Oct 29, 2016
Ex-Soviet republic Tajikistan on Saturday marked the start of construction of a controversial $4 billion Rogun hydroelectric dam conceived in the Soviet era, the presidential press service said. The high-profile ceremony was held in Rogun some 100 kilometres from the capital Dushanbe and saw veteran President Emomali Rakhmon spend an hour-and-a-half behind the wheel of a bulldozer pushing so ... read more


WATER WORLD
Italy quake zones fear tourism collapse as displaced total rises

Colombian president 'inspired' by N. Irish peace process

Lottery of misery: Bleak choices for North Korea's women

Aid workers 'brace for worst' from Mosul battle

WATER WORLD
Establishing an advanced bonding technique for tungsten and copper alloys

Engineers develop new magnetic ink to print self-healing devices that heal in record time

Why buoyant spheres don't always leap out of the water

Cal State LA partners with NASA to study how materials solidify in space

WATER WORLD
Brazil dam burst like 'end of the world'

Coral-algae partnership is more than 210 million years old

Researchers test shark detection sonar technology in Australia

Conundrum of missing iron in oxygen minimum zones solved

WATER WORLD
How much Arctic sea ice are you melting? Scientists have the answer

Why does our planet experience an ice age every 100,000 years?

Factors promoting growth of cryoconite granule formation and glacial-ice sheet melting

See how Arctic sea ice is losing its bulwark against warming summers

WATER WORLD
Soil could become significant CO2 contributor in near future: Study

ChemChina extends Syngenta offer after EU launches probe

3,000 Italian farms 'need quake help'

Scientists calculate carbon footprint of breakfast, lunch and dinner

WATER WORLD
CYGNSS Satellite Mission Aims to Improve Hurricane Forecasting

50 years on, Florence recalls its 'Angels of the Mud'

Italy's experts warn of more quakes

Hurricane Matthew damages in Haiti tally nearly $2 bn

WATER WORLD
President says UN 'scapegoating' Kenyan soldiers in S.Sudan

Deadly clashes in CAR as France ends military mission

Elephant poaching costs Africa tourism $25mn: study

Niger arrests 38 after deadly herder clashes

WATER WORLD
Ancient human history more complex than previously thought

Europeans and Africans have different immune systems, and neanderthals are partly to thank

Study finds earliest evidence in fossil record for right-handedness

Extensive heat treatment in Middle Stone Age silcrete tool production in South Africa




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement