Firefighters find skull during search in Brumadinho

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The Minas Gerais Fire Department announced today (21) that it has located a skull with part of the dental arch during searches in the area affected by the tragedy in Brumadinho (MG). For now, it is not possible to say if it belongs to a victim who is still missing. Confirmation will depend on the expertise in charge of the Civil Police of Minas Gerais.

The tragedy occurred in January 2019, when the rupture of a Vale dam released an avalanche of tailings that caused destruction of communities, environmental degradation and pollution of the Paraopeba River. Most of the victims are workers of the mining company itself or of outsourced companies that provided services at the mine. After about 3 and a half years, the search for the bodies continues. Of the 270 people who lost their lives, four have yet to be located.

According to a note released by the firefighters, the skull was found on Thursday (15) during the inspection process of the tailings in the area called Remanso 3. “A careful analysis of the scenario was carried out and work began to collect the bone segments that were in the excavator’s shell and on the ground. After a new controlled excavation of part of the area, five segments and an incomplete bone were found”, said the Fire Department.

Since the tragedy, the Fire Department’s search operations have suffered only two stoppages, both due to restrictions imposed at the moments of aggravation of the covid-19 pandemic. The efforts are closely monitored by the Association of Relatives of Victims and Affected People (Avabrum), created by the families of those killed in the tragedy. The entity counts 272 deaths because it includes the babies of two pregnant victims.

“We continue to believe that the four jewels will be found and the family members will have this warmth from the meeting”, registers a post made today (21) on Avabrum’s social networks.

Process in Germany

This Monday (19), a new hearing took place in an action on the tragedy that is being processed in the German courts. This is a lawsuit filed by 183 relatives of dead people and several surviving workers. They demand compensation from Tüv Süd, the German company that signed the declaration of stability of the dam that collapsed. The document, which must be submitted twice a year to the National Mining Agency (ANM), is mandatory to maintain the structure’s operations. Without it, activities must be paralyzed.

The president of Avabrum, Alexandra Andrade, participated in the hearing accompanied by another director of the entity. The victims are represented by Advocacia Garcez, which has a partnership with German lawyers Ruediger Helm and Ulrich Von Jeinsen. Both have experience in international law in cases of tragedies. Ulrich von Jeinsen acted, for example, in the claim for reparations to family members of victims of the crash of an Air France Concorde plane, which left more than 100 dead in 2000 when it exploded en route from Paris to New York.

This is not the only case brought against Tüv Süd in the German courts. The English office Pogust Goodhead represents other families and also the municipalities of Brumadinho and Mário Campos. Previously called PGMBM, this is the same office that defends victims of the tragedy that occurred in Mariana (MG) before the courts of the United Kingdom. The target is mining company BHP Billiton. It is, together with Vale, a shareholder of Samarco, responsible for the dam that broke in 2015, causing 19 deaths and environmental impacts in the Rio Doce Basin.

In Brazil, a criminal action is pending in the Minas Gerais Court based on the complaint presented by the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais (MPMG). 16 people are defendants, 11 of whom are employees of Vale and five of Tüv Süd. For MPMG, the two companies were aware of the critical situation of the dam.

In the civil sphere, a damage repair agreement was signed last year between Vale, the government of Minas Gerais, the MPMG, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and the state’s Public Defender’s Office. Several projects were foreseen that will demand R$ 37.68 billion from the mining company for socio-environmental recovery actions, measures aimed at guaranteeing water security, improvements in public services and urban mobility works, among other initiatives.

However, the individual and labor damages that must be paid to the victims were not covered in this agreement and are discussed in specific negotiations. There are agreements with the Public Ministry of Labor (MPT), with the Public Defender’s Office of Minas Gerais and also with unions that have established parameters and procedures for payment of compensation amounts. However, many disgruntled families individually sought the judicial sphere to resolve differences with Vale.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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