Bangkok, Aug 16 (EFE).- At least 25 people have died after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar while rescue teams are still looking for those missing, state media reported Wednesday.
A miner searches for Jade stones at the HpaKant jade mining area, in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, in Hpakant, Kachin State, northern Myanmar, 04 July 2020. EFE-EPA FILE/AH JE
Around 40 employees and an unknown number of irregular miners were working in the jade mine on Sunday when a nearby cliff collapsed, sweeping them into a 1000 feet (305 meters) long and 250 feet (76 meters) wide lake, The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.
“The collapse of the sand cliff led to the bank giving way, causing the water to surge into the lake. Tragically, this resulted in jade miners being trapped within the murky waters,” it added.
Over 10 rescue teams are working to locate and recover the bodies trapped under the mud.
The miners were digging for jade when they were swept by the landslide into a lake in Hpakant, a remote mountainous area in the northern Kachin state.
A member of the Myanmar Rescue Organization, who preferred to remain anonymous, told EFE on Monday that the disaster could have been caused by heavy rainfall in the region.
Mining-related accidents are common in Hpakant, where miners work in extremely precarious conditions.
In July 2020, more than 160 miners were trapped in a landslide while extracting the jade during heavy rains.
In 2019, at least 54 people died due to a landslide in another part of the mining area, located about 800 kilometers (497 miles) north of the capital city of Naypyidaw.
Thousands of impoverished people from all over the country flock to the jade mines – to which the foreign press is not allowed access – searching for fortune or livelihood.
But in most cases, the benefits are scarce, and the risks are high.
Myanmar is the world’s largest producer of jadeite, a prized variety of jade extracted mainly in the Kachin mountains and which enjoys a high demand in neighboring China. EFE