Nearly 100 bodies pulled from landslide in Myanmar

Landslide at jade mine in northern Myanmar kills nearly 100, with search and rescue operations continuing

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People look for the bodies of miners killed by a landslide in Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state

Nearly 100 bodies have been pulled from a landslide near a jade mine in Myanmar as rescue teams with the help of local people are still searching for the bodies of missing miners, a local official said on Sunday.

The landslide occurred at Hpakant town of Myanmar's northern Kachin State earlier in the morning when the miners were sleeping in their huts.

Tin Swe Myint, head of the Hpakant Township Administration Department said that 97 bodies had been recovered from the landslide.

According to local officials from Kachin State, an estimated 100 people are still missing as hopes of finding them wane.

Tin said the number of the casualties is likely to rise however there is no official information about exactly how many people were buried in the landslide.

"We just don't know how many people exactly were buried since we don't have any data on people living there," he said.

"It was just a slum with these...workers living in makeshift tents. Nobody knows for sure how many and where they had come from."

The mining workers who lost their lives and went missing were migrants from different parts of the country working for long hours and little payment.

Although it is not clear what caused the collapse of the heap of waste material mines in Hpakant, a territory where some of the world's highest quality jade is produced, the area is very unstable with potential dangers that result in landslides.

According to data from advocacy group Global Witness, the jade industry in Myanmar, the value of which is estimated to have been as much as US$31 billion in 2014, is believed to largely revolve around jade being smuggled into China for a very high markup.

Further research by the group suggests that many of the jade mines in Myanmar are linked to government officials, armed ethnic groups and cronies with close relations to the country's previous military government.

TRTWorld and agencies