One dead, at least 70 missing

The landslide in the Hpakant area of Kachin State happened at around 4 am (2130 GMT on Tuesday) and there were fears that about 80 people had been swept into a lake by mining waste, an official at the Kachin Network Development Foundation said. Photo: Asian Development Bank
/ Flickr

One dead, at least 70 missing after landslide at Myanmar jade mine: rescue team

A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar Wednesday killed at least one person and left dozens missing, a member of the rescue team told AFP.

One dead, at least 70 missing

The landslide in the Hpakant area of Kachin State happened at around 4 am (2130 GMT on Tuesday) and there were fears that about 80 people had been swept into a lake by mining waste, an official at the Kachin Network Development Foundation said. Photo: Asian Development Bank
/ Flickr

Scores die each year working in the country’s lucrative but poorly regulated jade trade, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in neighbouring China.

The disaster struck at the Hpakant mine close to the Chinese border in Kachin state, where billions of dollars of jade is believed to be scoured each year from bare hillsides.

“About 70-100 people are missing” following the landslide that struck around 4:00 am (2130 GMT Tuesday), said rescue team member Ko Nyi.

“We’ve sent 25 injured people to hospital while we’ve found one dead.”

Around 200 rescuers were searching to recover bodies, with some using boats to search for the dead in a nearby lake, he added.

A photo posted on social media by a local journalist who said he was at the scene showed dozens of people standing on the edge of the lake, with some launching boats into the water.

Local outlet Kachin News Group said 20 miners had been killed in the landslide.

Myanmar’s fire services said its personnel from Hpakant and nearby town of Lone Khin were involved in the rescue effort but gave no figures of dead or missing.

DEADLY INDUSTRY 

Civilians are frequently trapped in the middle of the fight for control of Myanmar’s mines and their lucrative revenues, with a rampant drug and arms trade further curdling the conflict.

Last year heavy rainfall triggered a massive landslide in Hpakant that entombed nearly 300 miners.

A February military coup also effectively extinguished any chance of reforms to the dangerous and unregulated industry initiated by ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, watchdog Global Witness said in a report this year.

The coup has also sparked fighting in Kachin state between the Kachin Independence Army, which has waged a decades-long insurgency, and the Myanmar military, Global Witness added.

In May, the military launched air strikes against the group, which later told AFP it had downed a helicopter gunship during fierce clashes in the country’s far north.

© Agence France-Presse

Also read: department of environmental affairs