Thank you, Ricardo, and thank you for attending this conference and helping us to really connect with your community in what are very tragic circumstances, following this terrible incident at the Samarco iron ore operation in Minas Gerais last Thursday.
At BHP Billiton, we have been overcome with sadness and our concern for your community. We are deeply sorry, so sorry, to everyone who has, and will suffer, from this terrible tragedy, to the friends and the families of those killed and missing and to those who have lost their homes and their possessions and who feel that their livelihoods may be under threat. The devastation that I and we have witnessed on site this morning and around the community is quite heartbreaking, so our thoughts and our prayers are with all of you in this distressing and uncertain time.
Like Vale, we are all working very closely with Samarco to provide our full support to the response efforts. Right now, of course, our focus is on safety, rescue, as Ricardo described, and the immediate humanitarian support that is necessary. I have come here for many reasons, but first and foremost is to learn about the situation here locally so I can better understand how we, at BHP Billiton, can be most helpful at this time, in the future and in the long term. I want to personally thank all who helped respond to this terrible event. I got to meet many of them this morning. I heard great stories of huge courage, heroism and commitment in the response effort and the courage and resilience of the workforce of Samarco, the communities and the responders in the face of this awful event truly inspires me.
Let me be very clear: we are 100 per cent committed to do everything we can do to support Samarco and make this right.
We have already provided health, safety, environment and geotechnical experts to Samarco and we are working with them to identify further resources that they are going to need in their response effort. As Ricardo said, as an immediate step, together with Vale, we pledge to support Samarco and to create an assistance fund for rebuilding works and to quickly help affected families and communities. Samarco will continue to update you on this, the situation and all the support efforts, but please make no mistake: the people of Brazil, the people of Mariana, have my absolute determination that we will fully play our part in helping to rebuild your homes, your community and your spirit. We will do this working hand in hand with Murilo Ferreira and Vale, and through Ricardo and Samarco.