Myanmar, May 24
At least 11 people died in a landslide in a remote jade mining region of northern Myanmar with many more feared missing, authorities said on Tuesday. Locals and officials are searching for bodies after a wall collapsed during a downpour on Monday night in the town of Hpakant in Kachin state, the war-torn area that feeds a huge demand for the precious stones from neighbouring China.
“We have found 11 dead bodies so far. When the landslide happened, about 50 people were searching for jade,” Nilar Myint, a local official from Hpakant, said. “Heavy rain has been falling the whole night,” she added. A local police officer said the rescue was continuing but was hampered by poor transport and communications infrastructure. The area has suffered a string of deadly landslides over the past year, with a major incident in Hpakant last November killing over 100. Dozens of other smaller accidents have left scores more dead or injured.The victims are usually itinerant workers searching for pieces of jade left behind by large-scale industrial mining firms.
A local resident and former NGO worker told AFP that hundreds of people have been searching the deep pits left behind by mining firms during Myanmar’s rainy season, when major companies cease operations. “We think about 200 people were working in that area when the landslide occurred last night… there could be many more casualties,” the resident said on condition of anonymity, adding that heavy rain and poor roads had made the rescue difficult.
Myanmar, May 24