Image Analysis-JT

Brumadinho Dam Collapse / Antonio Lacerda / EPA / Shutterstock

Running the length of the middle of the photograph, from right to left, one finds a wide, fringe of dark brown mud; the result of a mixture of soil, plain mud, fresh water from the nearby river, and the toxic mining sludge which was set free when the upstream tailings dam, which held approximately 9.7 million cubic meters of toxic mining sludge, collapsed on 25 January 2019, leaving in its wake 270 deaths, of whom 259 were confirmed and 11 others declared as missing, along with leaving many survivors homeless, and destitute, and causing a major ecological disaster in the rainforest.

No description of the picture was provided but, based on the fact that the picture is part of the on-line newspaper article found on the New York Times’ website, it may be surmised that it was taken on-location. Perhaps no more than 24 hours from the aftermath.

The aerial photograph was taken by the Brazilian photographer António Lacerda, soon after the aftermath, for the EFE News Agency, and it was made available to the New York Times for its article via ShutterStock. He has been a professional photographer since 1995 at which time he started his professional career working for Jornal O Dia, where he worked for five months, later working for Jornal do Brasil, where he worked for seven years and, ultimately, working for Agencia EFE, until present.

Further examination of this aerial photograph reveals the magnitude of the toxic mud caused by the collapse of the upstream tailings dam. There are civilians and help crews on either side of the toxic mud who, next to it, look like minuscule, colored spots in the picture. This points to how helpless the residents of the Brumadinho area are when it comes to the dangers which original toxic mining sludge presented at the time of the accident.

The left-side of the aerial photograph has missing trees which have been uprooted by the massive amount of toxic mud, which continued travelling downhill, based on the image and the light reflecting from the mud, in some areas of the photograph. This massive up uprooting of trees along the path of the toxic mud, as it made its way downhill and downstream, exemplifies part of the ecological destruction caused by this catastrophe.

The right-side of the aerial photograph has missing crops which have been washed-away by the massive amount of toxic mud. By the coloring of the crops which were spared, it may be gathered that different crops were grown in the section along the path of the toxic mud and which were destroyed, causing massive financial losses both personal, and commercial, throughout the area. Leaving many individuals destitute.

Another section to which to pay attention is the middle of the photograph, running from top to bottom, or the other way around, a section of the highway is missing, washed-away by the toxic mud, creating a divide between these people in the photograph; therefore, adding an impediment in communications, and transportation of people, goods, and services. This also adds a major impediment to emergency crews when it comes to their ability to reach individuals in need and to conduct search and rescue efforts. Much of which would need to be performed aerially.

The hidden insights uncovered in this photograph have pointed to, collectively, the overall economic, ecologic, and sociological damage caused by this disaster as the loss of crops, farming land, production, earnings, and the yet-to-be-seen health problems stemming from long-term exposure to the toxic chemicals which made-up the toxic mining sludge and which are now contaminating rivers, soil, and which will be absorbed by plants and ultimately consumed by human beings who, due to their poverty, will be remaining in the area.