07/11/2015 6:40 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Search For Survivors Continues After Deadly Brazil Mudslide


Firefighters are desperately searching for survivors after a mudslide that erupted in southeastern Brazil on Thursday.

The mudslide occurred after two dams -- holding back waste water from an iron ore mine that is owned by BHP Billiton and Vale -- burst, killing at least 17 people and destroying a village.

Emergency crews have rescued 500 survivors from a torrent of mining waste, but are continuing to look for survivors from the mudslide in Bento Rodrigues -- a village of approximately 600 people near the southeastern city of Mariana in the mining region of Minas Gerais.

Villagers were clinging to their roofs after the torrent ripped the roofs off houses and left

"There was a horrible noise and we saw the mud approaching. We ran for it. It is a miracle that we are still alive," Valeria de Souza, 20, told AFP.

Seventeen people have officially been confirmed dead and 50 injured, "but more bodies have been found," said Adao Severino Junior, the fire chief in Mariana. Severino said more than 40 people could still be missing.

"There is no way to survive under that material."

Approximately 150 survivors from the destroyed village were being housed, while firefighters said they had rescued 500 people who were covered in iron and mineral deposits which have been washed of them.