One year after Vale dam break, pain runs deep in Brazil mine disaster town

By Pablo Garcia
Ceremony to mark one year of Vale tailings dam collapse in Brumadinho

By Pablo Garcia

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (Reuters) - Exactly one year ago a tailings dam in the Brazilian town of Brumadinho collapsed, killing more than 250 people in one of the world's worst mining disasters.

For survivors and relatives of the victims still searching for answers and justice, time has been no healer.

"It's the same today as it was the day of the tragedy. The same feeling of pain, betrayal, loss," said Rafaela Cavalcante Andrade, who lost her sister in the tragedy.

"My sister was a person who loved life. She didn't deserve this. 365 days later, the feeling is the same."

Brazilian state prosecutors this month charged Fabio Schvartsman, Vale SA's former chief executive, and 15 other people with homicide, according to the charging document seen by Reuters.

Responding to the charges, Vale said it was "perplexed by the accusations of willful misconduct," while a representative for Schvartsman pointed out that a federal police report on the matter was not due until June.

A panel of experts appointed by the Vale's lawyers concluded in December that the dam collapse was partially triggered by "a persistently high water level" that caused the structure to lose strength and stability, and that there was no warning the dam was unstable.

Andresa Rodrigues, who insists her 26-year-old son Bruno Rocha Rodrigues was "murdered by Vale", says there can be no recompense for her loss.

"The last year has been one of pain, regret and sadness, revolt and indignation. There's no compensation. All the mitigation efforts have been nowhere near enough to ease the pain," she said.


(Reporting by Pablo Garcia in Brumadinho, writing by Jamie McGeever in Brasilia, Editing by Franklin Paul)