November 13, 2015 / 2:39 AM / 3 years ago

BHP Billiton says Brazil dam death toll has risen to 9

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The death toll from the iron ore mine dam disaster in Brazil has risen to nine, while 19 people remain missing, BHP Billiton, a co-owner of the mine said on Friday.

Debris is pictured in Bento Rodigues district which was covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, in Mariana, Brazil, November 10, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BHP said tailings from the dam that burst more than a week ago extend 440 kilometres downstream, affecting 11 communities, with water quality being closely monitored in three towns.

The mine, operated by Samarco, a joint venture of BHP and Brazil’s Vale has been closed since the incident and the government has suspended Samarco’s operating license.

“BHP Billiton’s immediate priority is the welfare of the Samarco workforce and the community,” the company reiterated on Friday.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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