January 16, 2020 / 4:33 PM / a day ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil police say key part of Vale dam probe to wrap up in June

(Adds further details on probe, background on dam collapse)

By Marta Nogueira

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Jan 16 (Reuters) - A key part of a Brazilian probe into the collapse of miner Vale SA’s Brumadinho dam will wrap up in June, after police consult foreign experts to help identify the causes of the disaster, a leading police investigator said on Thursday.

The police probe is one of several parallel investigations into the causes of the dam’s collapse, which killed at least 255 people just under a year ago.

Brazilian federal police officer Luiz Augusto Nogueira said at a news conference that it was too early to say whether the investigation could lead to charges of murder or manslaughter. “All of this is still being investigated and will only be decided at the end of the probes,” he said.

The investigation is looking into what caused the seepage of water into the dam that experts say caused it to lose strength and stability, known as liquefaction.

Given the complexity of the topic, the police have struck an agreement with Spain’s University of Barcelona and with Portugal’s Porto University to help identify the causes, he said.

He provided no target date for related probes that will decide the final nature of the charges to be brought.

A December report by a Vale-appointed panel of experts found the collapse was partially triggered by a “persistently high water level,” but did not say who was to blame for the dam becoming waterlogged. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Christian Plumb and Rosalba O’Brien)

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