MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mineworkers drown in Burmese mud slide

Published by MAC on 2015-01-13
Source: Daily Times, The Associated Press

A landslide, apparently caused when heavy rainfall dislodged a pile of debris, has killed four workers at a Burmese jade mine.

Search called off at Myanmar jade mine
Daily Times (Lahore)

9 January 2015
YANGON – Rescuers on Friday called off the search at a jade mine in war-torn northern Myanmar that was struck by a landslide this week after all missing people were accounted for, police said.

Four bodies were pulled from the rubble at the mine in Hpakant town, Kachin state, which was engulfed by a wall of mud on Tuesday evening. The landslide is believed to have occurred when debris heaped beside the mine collapsed after it was loosened by heavy rains.

“We stopped our search and rescue today as we found all missing persons," Police Major Naing Win of Hpakant police station told AFP. The death toll could have been considerably higher had the landslide hit earlier in the day, he added. Instead it struck around 7:05pm after most miners had returned home to eat dinner.

“About eight tents selling food were there with very few customers inside when the landslide occurred. That's why there were fewer casualties,” Major Naing Win said. Up to 90 per cent of the world's jadeite-the most sought-after type of jade-is mined in Hpakant, feeding a vast appetite for the green stone in Asia and particularly China. Accidents and landslides at Myanmar's jade mines are commonplace.

At least four dead as landslide hits Myanmar jade mining region

The Associated Press

9 January 2015
YANGON, Myanmar — At least four people have been killed in a landslide at a jade mine in Myanmar’s north, authorities said Friday.

A rescue mission in the mining town of Phakant was called off late Thursday after a search team recovered four bodies, including those of two women, local government official Than Shwe said, adding that no other people had officially been reported missing so far.

Heavy rains caused the collapse Tuesday night, Than Shwe said by telephone from Hpakant town in Kachin state, about 600 miles (960 kilometres) from Yangon.

Myanmar is one of the world’s biggest producers of jade, most found in the conflict-torn mountains of Kachin state, where ethnic rebels have been fighting the government for more than half a century. Landslides are common in the area and impoverished artisanal miners have been buried by rockslides on unstable slopes before.

The vast majority of the gemstones, considered to be of the highest quality, are smuggled over the border to China.

Hpakant, which is controlled by the government, had been closed off to large scale mining operations since 2011 because of the conflict. But big companies began working there again last year as fighting eased.

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