27 February 2020

More than 50 feared dead after landslide at Myanmar jade mine

KONFRONTASI-More than 50 people are feared dead after a landslide hit a major jade mining area in Myanmar's northern Kachin state, an official has said.

The accident took place near Maw Wun Kalay village in Hpakant Township around 11:30pm local time (17:00 GMT) on Monday when a mud-filter pond, situated in an old mining site, collapsed.

A total of 54 staff from two private companies were buried under a mound of mining waste along with 40 machines and vehicles, Tin Soe, a local politician told the Reuters news agency.

They won’t survive. It is not possible because they are buried under mud,” Tin Soe told Reuters by phone. "It is very difficult to retrieve the bodies."

"Three dead bodies have been recovered from the mud," Kyaw Swa Aung, the township's administrator told the Anadolu news agency, adding that a search and rescue operation was ongoing.

At least 20 people have been killed so far this year in collapses and landslides at mining sites, according to the Hpakant Township office.

Centre of Jade mining

Most of the victims were identified as internal migrant workers who scavenge jade or pieces of the precious stones left over from company mining operations.

Hpakant area is the centre of the country’s jade mining industry and produces some of the best-quality jade in the world.

According to environmental advocacy group Global Witness, jade production in Myanmar was worth around $31bn in 2014.

The country's lucrative jade industry is dominated by companies and businessmen linked to leaders of the previous military government.



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