UPDATE 2-Third possible death being probed near burst Brazil dams

domingo 8 de noviembre de 2015 15:37 GYT

(Adds quotes from displaced survivor, Samarco employee)

By Stephen Eisenhammer

MARIANA, Brazil Nov 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian authorities on Sunday were investigating a third possible death caused by a massive mudflow and flooding that swamped towns near an iron ore mine in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

As many as 28 people are still missing after two dams burst on Thursday, triggering the disaster and prompting a rescue and salvage operation involving about 500 people, many of whom are still searching, with the help of dogs and special equipment, for victims along the floodplain downstream from the dams.

After confirming a second death caused by the tragedy early Sunday, response teams midday said they had found a third body, but were still working to retrieve it. They had not yet confirmed a cause of death or whether the corpse belonged to one of those still reported missing.

The torrent, carrying water and mud stained with mineral waste from the mine, flooded areas as far as 100 km (60 miles) from the rupture. While the surge has receded, authorities expect the residue in the mainstream of the Rio Doce to reach the neighboring state of Espirito Santo by Tuesday.

Neither authorities nor mine operator Samarco - a joint venture between the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton Ltd , and the biggest iron ore miner, Vale SA - have determined a cause for the rupture.

Official response to the disaster has so far focused on recovery. But residents, regulators, environmentalists and others across Brazil have begun questioning oversight at the mine, pointing to broader concerns about the safety and sustainability of mining, one of Brazil's biggest industries and a major source of export revenue.

On Saturday, the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported that a study commissioned by the state government in Minas Gerais in 2013 had warned that the dams that burst could be vulnerable.   Continuación...