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Families of Brazil mine spill victims offered $25,600
by Staff Writers
Sao Paulo, Brazil (AFP) Dec 24, 2015

Shenzhen landslide an industrial accident, not geological disaster: government
Beijing (AFP) Dec 25, 2015 - A landslide last week that killed seven and has left dozens missing was an "industrial safety accident" rather than a geological disaster, a Chinese cabinet investigation found, the official Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

The landslide, which struck the southern city of Shenzhen on Sunday, is the latest in a series of fatal man-made accidents in the world's most populous country, coming just months after a massive chemical blast in the industrial city of Tianjin killed almost 200 people.

The disaster was caused by the improper storage of waste from construction sites, according to the official newspaper of the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Soil was illegally piled 100 metres (330 feet) high at an old quarry site and turned to mud during rain on Sunday morning, according to the state-run Global Times.

Some 75 people are still missing and seven bodies have been found so far, Xinhua said Thursday in the latest count, adding that only one rescued person, 19-year-old Tian Zeming, has made it out alive.

The State Council, China's cabinet, announced earlier this week that it would set up a team headed by the minister of land resources to investigate the disaster.

Documents on the website of Guangming New District, where the landslide occurred, show that authorities were aware of problems with the soil storage and had urged action as early as July.

In an announcement dated July 10, officials said work at the site was not being carried out according to approved plans and ordered the Hongao Construction Waste Dump to "speed up" work to bring its operations into line.

The government issued a second warning in September, noting that the dump's permit to receive waste had expired and authorities had made it clear that dumping should cease.

The city had "pointed out problems at the site and requested steps to correct them", the statement said.

The families of people killed and missing after a catastrophic collapse of a waste water dam at a mine in Brazil last month were each offered $25,600 Thursday by the company responsible.

Seventeen people died and two people were declared missing after the November 5 disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine near Mariana in southeastern Brazil.

Samarco, which runs the facility, is a joint venture of mining giants Vale of Brazil and Australia's BHP Billiton.

Brazil's government is suing the two groups for $5.2 billion in clean-up costs and damages resulting from the flood of contaminated water and mud that spewed from the ruptured dam down a major river into the Atlantic.

Samarco said in a statement Thursday that it was paying 100,000 reais -- $25,600 at current exchange rates -- to each of the victims' families after reaching a partial settlement with authorities in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where the mine is located.

A spokeswoman for Samarco did not respond to AFP queries for more information.

Samarco is also paying $5,100 to each family whose house was destroyed in the incident, the worst environmental disaster in Brazil's history.

The company's statement said it was mulling making other overtures to the victims of the spill, including in terms of lodgings, financial aid and "issues related to definitive compensation."

Brazilian judges have ordered that Vale and BHP Billiton assets in the country be frozen to guarantee compensation payments. They have ordered the companies to deposit two billion reais ($520 million) within a month to be used toward a clean-up of the damage.

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Previous Report
One survivor found as China pledges landslide probe
Beijing (AFP) Dec 23, 2015
Rescuers scrabbling through the debris of a huge three-day-old landslide discovered a young man alive in the mud Wednesday, as China's cabinet announced a probe into the nation's latest industrial disaster. Tian Zeming survived for almost 72 hours on seeds and fruit that had been buried alongside him when a tide of earth and rubble from a huge waste dump crushed more than 30 buildings, rescu ... read more

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