Brazil dam disaster: Death toll rises to 121; 226 still missing

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A number of experts and legislators claim that lax regulations and chronic short staffing made the devastating collapse of the dam in southeastern Brazil all but destined to happen. It said it estimated that investments of around US$5 billion would be necessary to decommission its upstream dams and estimated that the decommissioning process would occur over the next three years.

Their responsibilities are believed to include dealing with environmental impact licences. Vale SA is the world's largest producer of iron ore, the raw ingredient for making steel.

At least 115 people are dead and there is little hope of recovering most of the missing.

Excavators stopped digging in the mud, and rescuers looking for survivors in the thick mine tailings all looked to the sky as 10 fire department and police helicopters released flower petals onto the iron ore mining complex.

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A priest also gave a brief Mass in front of a tall pink cross that had been planted in the mud. Search operations to retrieve bodies were still going on, said authorities. They were buried under mine waste after the dam collapsed.

Vale SA, the company that ran and operated the dam, claimed the residues did not have risky levels of metals, but experts argue the impact on the environment could be irreversible.

Another dam administered by the company collapsed in 2015 in the city of Mariana in Minas Gerais state, resulting in 19 deaths and forcing hundreds from their homes, the report added.

The mining company said it had also begun safely treating the streets and fields of Brumandinho to prevent the spread of disease as an environmental group told the AP Thursday that it had set out to test the Paraopeba river's levels of toxicity.