Orbital View: The Brazilian Dam Disaster

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Alan has an extensive gallery of this environmental nightmare, with both aerial and on-the-ground photos, but this satellite view is really something:

A photo posted by Daily Overview (@dailyoverview) on

Some details on the situation in case you haven’t read about it yet:

In this frame we see Bento Rodrigues, a small village that was destroyed when the nearby dam failed and released 62 million cubic meters of wastewater. The sludge wiped out hundreds of homes and caused the death of twelve people. Eleven others are still missing. Because of the ongoing pollution, more than half a million people still do not have access to clean water for drinking or irrigating their crops. [Monday], the contaminated water covered 400 miles of the Rio Doce River and entered into the sea, killing significant amounts of plant and animal life along the way. Officials are concerned that the toxins will threaten the Comboios Nature Reserve, a protected area for the endangered leatherback turtle.

(See all Orbital Views here)