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At least one dead and 70 missing after a landslide in Myanmar jade mine

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By Euronews  with AFP
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Rescuers recover bodies in Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar, on July 3, 2020, following a landslide at a jade mine.
Rescuers recover bodies in Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar, on July 3, 2020, following a landslide at a jade mine.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Zaw Moe Htet

At least one person has died and dozens are still missing after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, an emergency official has said.

"About 70 to 100 people are missing in a landslide that occurred around 4am" at a jade mine in Hpakant, Kayah state, rescuer Ko Ny, said.

"We sent 25 injured to hospital while we found one dead," he added.

About 200 rescue workers are involved in the search, some in boats trying to recover bodies from a lake, he added.

The Myanmar Fire Services Department said on Facebook that fire stations in Hpakant and neighbouring city, Lone Khin as well as the Lone Khin Regional fire department were involved in the rescue operations.

Dozens of miners in Myanmar die each year working in dangerous conditions in jade quarries, an opaque and poorly regulated industry.

Landslides are common in this poor and inaccessible region, which looks like a moonscape because it has been so badly altered by large mining companies, with little regard for the environment.

Following a moratorium in 2016, many large mines have closed and are no longer monitored, allowing the return of many independent miners. These come from disadvantaged ethnic communities and operate almost clandestinely in sites left abandoned by companies.

Heavy monsoon rains in 2020 caused the worst disaster of its kind, with 300 miners buried after a landslide in the Hpakant massif, the heart of the industry, near the Chinese border.

Myanmar derives significant revenue from the massive presence in its subsoil of the precious stone, which is particularly prized in China.

The February coup d'état destroyed any chance of reforming the industry under Aung San Suu Kyi, watchdog Global Witness said in a report published in 2021.