Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The death toll after a dam burst at a Brazilian iron mine Friday has risen to 34 with hundreds missing, search and rescue authorities said Saturday.
The Minas Gerais Fire Department, which is conducting operations in the southeastern state, gave the death toll update, according to a CNN report. On Friday, the agency said 296 people were missing.
Authorities said Friday that 427 people were in the iron mine when the dam burst, spewing debris and mud.
A total of 279 people have been rescued, Officer Sargent Acquiles, a spokesman for the civil defense agency, told CNN.
Rescue workers in helicopters attempted to help people trapped in thick mud. Homes, vehicles and large areas of farmland were damaged.
The state's governor, Romeu Zema, said Saturday morning that "the odds are minimal" people alive will be found, Voice of America reported.
Zema met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who looked at the devastation from the air.
"It is hard to witness this whole scenario and not be emotional," Bolsonaro posted on Twitter. "We will do everything in our reach to help the victims, minimize damage, investigate the facts, claim justice and prevent new tragedies like the ones in Mariana and Brumadinho for the well-being of Brazilians and the environment."
In a similar mining disaster in 2015 in same state of Minas Gerais, 19 people died. That dam was also administrated by Vale, along with Australian mining company BHP Billiton. The release of millions of tons of toxic iron waste along hundreds of miles caused what is considered Brazil's worst environmental disaster.
In the latest incident, the state judiciary froze more than $260 million from Vale. The money will be used to compensate for any costs to the state as a result of rescue operations or victim support.
The Brazilian National Water Agency hopes to contain the mudlike mine waste, called "tailings," within two days. That's the time for the muck to reach the Retiro Baixo hydroelectric dam 135 miles away, the agency said.
"Unfortunately, the dam break happened. This is inexcusable," Vale chief Fabio Schvartsman said in a video. "What just happened just now is beyond anything that I could imagine.
He said the company will "do all possible" to aid victims.
Brazil has accepted an offer from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help with the search and rescue,
And the United Nations "stands ready to support the Brazilian authorities in the search and emergency relief efforts," Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said Saturday in a statement.