Brazil, the sweet river becomes river of death

Il disastro minerario avvenuto in Brasile tre settimane fa ha devastato il bacino del Rio Doce e dei suoi affluenti, seminando morte tra gli animali e disperazione tra i pescatori.

“I don’t want to cry, but I can’t help it,” weeps Rodrigo, fisherman of Mariana. “It is all over. Not only for the river, but also for fish and fishermen”. On 5 November, two dams have collapsed in south-east Brazil, causing the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history, and one of the worst in the world.


The poisonous mudslide, containing highly toxic substances, has first devastated the basin of the Doce River and its tributaries in Minas Gerais, and then arrived to the coast and spilled into the Atlantic Ocean. It has reached the marine turtle sanctuary and the Abrolhos Marine National Park, threatening unique ecosystems.


Local fishermen, collect dead fish found along a beach near the village of Povoacao © Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


The Doce River, one of Brazil’s largest watercourses, literally represented life, since it provided the inhabitants of the region with water, food, and jobs. “How are we supposed to survive now?” wonders a local fisherman. “I’ve been fishing for 21 years”.


Over 250,000 people lack access to drinking water, thousands of fish have died, whilst others are slowly suffocating in the toxic mud, gasping towards the sky unaware of what have destroyed their world, for a fistful of iron.

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