The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured these natural-color views of the village and the surrounding region. The top image shows the area on October 11, before the incident; the bottom image shows the area afterward, on November 12. Turn on the image comparison tool to see areas where mud was still visible about a week after the dams broke.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 60 million cubic meters of wastewater were unleashed, most affecting Bento Rodrigues, which lies to the southeast. The village happens to be located close to the breach, and sits in a river valley just below one of the dams.
The effects of the flooding, however, were felt far beyond Bento Rodrigues. The image shows myriad rivers far from the village that remained swollen and inundated with mud. East of this image in Barra Longa—a village about 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the dams—the river had surged up to 15 meters and flooded homes, according to Reuters. As health officials conducted tests, cities as far as 300 kilometers (200 miles) downstream lost access to drinking water.
As of November 12, rescuers had recovered the bodies of nine people, according to ABC News; 19 people were still missing.
- BBC News (2015, November 9) Brazil dams burst: ‘Hopes of finding survivors fading.’ Accessed November 13, 2015.
- Reuters (2015, November 9) Brazil mine dam burst endangers water supply far downstream. Accessed November 13, 2015.
- Reuters (2015, November 8) When the river flowed backwards: a town in Brazil mining flood. Accessed November 13, 2015.
- The Wall Street Journal (2015, November 6) Brazil Searches for Missing After Dam Breach. Accessed November 13, 2015.
- Instrument(s): Landsat 8 - OLI
- Via NASA - Earth Observatory