17 dead, 20 missing in mudslide in southern Brazil

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A breach in a levee at an iron ore mine Thursday in southern Brazil has left 17 people dead and another 20 missing, according to news reports.

A levee failure unleashed a mudslide that flooded part of Bento Rodriguez, a village about 250 kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro, the news portal Estadao reported. More than 70 residents were injured.

The levee held back a settling pit at a Samarco iron ore mine. The damage destroyed a large portion of the village, which had a population of 500, news reports said.

The city prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation. Samarco, which lists itself as the 10th-largest export company in Brazil, belongs in equal parts to the Brazilian firm Vale and the Australian firm BHP Billiton.

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