by Staff Writers
Sao Paulo, Brazil (AFP) Dec 24, 2015
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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