Myanmar: Dead and missing after landslide in jade mine

Status: 22.12.2021 10:17 a.m.

Rescue workers are looking for up to 100 people missing after a landslide in a jade mine in Myanmar. Local media reported that 20 people were dead. Prospecting is actually forbidden in the rainy season.

After a landslide in a jade mine in northern Myanmar, about 70 to 100 people are believed to be missing, according to the emergency services and eyewitnesses. The media portal “Kachin News Group” speaks of 20 dead miners. Around 200 rescue workers are on duty. Some use boats to search for more bodies in a nearby lake.

The miners had been collecting stones in the jade-rich area of ​​Hpakant, Kachin state, when they were buried in a mudslide. Mining waste previously fell into a lake and triggered the landslide, said Dashi Naw Lawn of the Kachin Network Development Foundation, which is helping with the rescue work. The miners were then carried away into the lake.

It is forbidden to dig for jade in the rainy season

The military junta ruling Myanmar had actually banned digging for jade during the rainy season until March. Nevertheless, hundreds of miners have returned to the dangerous opencast mines of Hpakant, reports a local activist. “They mine at night and dump the earth and rock in the morning.” These accumulations would have contributed significantly to the formation of the landslide.

Fatal accidents over and over again

The impoverished crisis country Myanmar is one of the world’s largest suppliers of green gemstones, which are particularly popular in China. Most of the jade stones come from the mining region of the Hpakant disaster near the border with China. In the mines, poorly paid workers, including many migrants, toil under sometimes life-threatening conditions. They live on the mountain slopes and often look for jade with luck. The trade is particularly controlled by Myanmar’s military and its business partners.

Fatal accidents happen again and again. In 2015, 116 people died in a similar accident, and last year more than 170 miners were killed in a mudslide. Last year, a massive landslide spilled almost 300 miners in Hpakant – the center of Myanmar’s jade trade.

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