By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo March 26, 2019 The Brazilian Armed Forces deployed about 190 service members to search-and-rescue missions for one of the greatest disasters in the country. A surge of toxic mud buried everything in its wake as a result of a collapsed dam at an iron ore mining complex, on January 25, 2019. The dam was part of the Córrego do Feijão Mine, in the city of Brumadinho, Minas Gerais. Employees of the mining company were the first victims. They were working in the mine’s administrative buildings when the dam broke. An estimated 12 million cubic meters of mud spread over 46 kilometers, destroying nearly everything in its path. The avalanche of mud also reached the Paraopeba River, which is part of the São Francisco River bay that runs across 48 Brazilian cities. “There’s no doubt that what happened in Brumadinho is the greatest tragedy I ever experienced in my military career,” said Brazilian Military Fire Brigade Lieutenant Raimundo Carlos Dias de Matos, who has 22 years of experience. He was one of 400 members of various Brazilian fire brigades working on the major operation. By February 25, a month into search-and-rescue missions, authorities found 192 persons alive and 176 dead. About 130 people are still missing. The incident also destroyed the local flora and fauna. The Animal Brigade—a team consisting of veterinarians, zoo technicians, volunteers, and local students—rescued more than 350 animals, including dogs, cats, cattle, birds, and reptiles. Team work In addition to service members from the Army, Navy, and Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese), the operations in the Brumadinho area mobilized service members from the National Guard—a body of the Department of Justice and Public Safety—firefighters, Civil Defense teams, and volunteers. The Eastern Military Command coordinated service members’ work in support of Civil Defense and fire brigade teams. Aerial operations were critical, as the mud still hadn’t hardened 15 days after the disaster, challenging rescuers’ efforts. “During the first 30 days of operation, we had a daily average of 299 landings and takeoffs. It was the largest air traffic ever recorded in Minas Gerais,” said Lieutenant Pedro Aihara, spokesperson for the Military Fire Brigade of Minas Gerais. Authorities used a total of 31 aircraft, three from the Armed Forces, in addition to those from fire brigades of different states, Military, Civil and Federal Police, and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources. “This really shows the size of the operation: more than 1,400 aerial missions and the amount of personnel assigned to it,” Lt. Aihara said. Air traffic management in the region fell under the First Central Communications and Control Group, a unit of FAB’s Airspace Control Department. The group ensured that the various aircraft used in the operation operated in an orderly manner and avoided accidents. Authorities installed a radio station near the collapsed dam area to allow for airspace control. The need for aerial missions narrowed as the mud solidified. From then on, teams on land vehicles and excavators took over search-and-rescue efforts. In addition to contributing with air transportation, service members secured the area for forensic medical examiners and engineering inspections of facilities with possible explosive materials. Ongoing operation Search operations continue without end in sight. “The fire brigades only have two options. One: We locate all missing people. And the other is a total lack of realistic and biological conditions to recover those bodies,” said Lt. Aihara.
Siba K. GogoiA notable person once said, “the toughest battle you’ll ever fight in your life is the battle within yourself”. This is exactly what has been echoed by India’s cricketing superstar Virat Kohli. After India’s humiliating Test series defeat at the hands of the Kiwis recently, Kohli candidly admitted that India lost the battle in their heads. That it has come from the horse’s mouth has lent credence to the latest perception that all’s not well in Team India, at least for now. The manner in which New Zealand whitewashed India points to the flaws that are so identical to subcontinental cricketers, especially when they compete in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia) countries. Fresh from their resounding Test series victory over South Africa on home soil, the world no.-1- ranked side were in for the toughest challenge the Kiwis could have ever planned. The touring side were handed a 10-wicket defeat in the first game at Wellington, while it was a 7-wicket drubbing for the visitors at Christchurch. The failure of the Indian batters to apply themselves in overseas conditions brought back memories of the days when players from the subcontinent were dismissed as flat-pitch bullies by some SENA experts. The sudden dip in Kohli’s form not only dented his reputation as India’s batting mainstay but also weakened the morale of his troops. The India skipper made only 38 runs in the four innings at an average of 9.50, his second-worst batting showing in any away series. This was also India’s first Test series whitewash under Kohli’s captaincy. Cricket is certainly not an individual game, but when a player of Kohli’s calibre performs it does impact the performance of the whole team. To make matters worse, Cheteswar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, two other key members of the national side, failed to rise to the occasion. Pujara is well known for his ability to hold team innings together, allowing his teammates to play around him. He had played a stellar role in India’s historic Test triumph in Australia in 2018-2019. This time round, in New Zealand, he managed only one half century (54). No one can dispute the fact that Rahane was until recently the most successful Indian batsman on foreign soil. He has performed remarkably in countries such as Australia, England, and South Africa. Curiously, Rahane has of late lost his rhythm in the 22-yard arena. With the likes of Shubman Gill waiting in the wings, Rahane has his task cut out in the days ahead. However, Pujara and Mayank Agarwal, the highest individual scorer (58) for his team in the series, salvaged some pride for the Indian batting department. The Indian openers not being able to shine on the big stage was another reason why the Virat Kohli-led squad struggled against the lethal bowling attack launched by the duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal are still greenhorns so far as opening the batting in foreign conditions is concerned. The Indian team management could have asked KL Rahul to partner with either Prithvi or Mayank at the top of the order. Rahul is undoubtedly better equipped, with a sound technique, than Prithvi and Mayank. Of course, it was a good learning curve for the young Indian openers, for they got a well-deserved exposure to the treacherous swing and bounce international cricketers usually encounter in pitches offered in New Zealand. It is not difficult to understand why Indian batters, so accustomed to flat tracks across the country, get overwhelmed by the juicy pace, swing and bounce produced by pitches in countries like New Zealand. This also explains why India have always had poor outings as batting units in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Laying fast and bouncy tracks in India will be the best way to offset such challenges. While the Indian bowlers did fairly well during the two-Test series, Kohli’s team missed the services of Bhuvneswar Kumar whose ability to swing the cricket ball both ways could have made some difference to the outcome of the bilateral contest. Virat Kohli was unlucky enough to have lost the toss on both the occasions. Just as menacing spin troubles batsmen on the last two days of a Test match played in India, batting first in a Test match in New Zealand is like climb a mountain for subcontinental players. India still leads the points table in the ICC World Test Championship, and the Indian players, as King Kohli rightly says, need to be brave and positive to clinch the ultimate trophy.(The writer is a senior journalist. He can be reached at [email protected])Also Read: Virat Kohli is in 30s now, needs to practise more: Kapil DevAlso Watch: Ex-AAGSU president Prem Tamang joins BJP