Several people have been killed near the town of Mariana after a dam holding mining waste burst, engulfing houses and vehicles near the Germano mine in Minas Gerais.
Brazilian media reported that at least 15 people have been killed and dozens are missing. There has been no official confirmation on the number of deaths.
Mining company Samarco, a joint venture between top iron ore miners Brazil’s Vale and Australia’s BHP Billiton, said in a statement it had not yet determined why the dam burst or the extent of the disaster.
Civil defence authorities in Mariana said they were evacuating about 600 people to higher ground from the village of Bento Rodrigues.