MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Burma: Hpakant landslide kills at least 15 and injuries around 40

Published by MAC on 2018-07-17
Source: Reuters, Eleven, Irrawaddy

For previous article on MAC see: Burma: Even more workers killed at Hpakant

Landslide at Myanmar jade mine kills at least 15, injures 45: official

Reuters -

14 July 2018

A landslide killed at least 15 people in northern Myanmar on Saturday, with 45 others injured after the latest disaster in the Hpakant jade mining region, a local official said.

Miners searching for the precious mineral were buried by muddy earth from a slope that collapsed, said Kyaw Swar Aung, the administrator of Hpakant, in the northern Kachin state.

The search in the area of Lone Khin was called off for the day after 15 bodies were pulled from the mud and 45 injured people were taken to a nearby hospital, he told Reuters by phone.

“We stopped the search at 5:30pm and will continue tomorrow,” he said, adding that authorities had appealed to people in the area to report anyone still missing.

He said the affected miners were not working for a company. Informal jade scavengers, or hand-pickers, are frequently caught up in landslides in the poorly regulated mining area.

In May, at least 14 miners were killed in a similar collapse in the same area, and more than 100 people were killed in a landslide in Hpakant in 2015.

Han Thar, secretary for the ruling National League for Democracy party in Hpakant, spoke to Reuters from just above where the landslide had occurred, and said more people may still be buried in the rubble.

“There might have been about 100 people,” he said. “When the land fell into a pond, the workers in the water were buried by soil.”

Environmental advocacy group Global Witness put the value of jade production in Myanmar at around $31 billion in 2014. Experts say most of the stones are smuggled to China.

Reporting by Shoon Naing; Editing by Simon Lewis and Stephen Powell.

Hpakant landslide kills at least 15 and injuries around 40

Tun Lin Aung (Myitkyina)

Eleven -

15 July 2018

At least 15 people were killed and around 40 others injured in a landslide at Mahar Gem block near Sankhar village in Lonekhin village-tract in Hpakant Township in Kachin State on July 14, according to Deputy Police Major Sein Myint Tun from Lonekhin Region Police Station.

Min Zaw from Myint Myat Thu Social Organization said: “Now the bodies of 15 people killed in the accident have been recovered. We are collecting the exact number of victims. The death toll is expected to exceed 50. We are unable to carry out the searches for the bodies of those buried the mud due to ongoing landslides.”

Ko Bo Thein (aka) Ko Min Min Thein, an eyewitness said: “The old mining pit collapsed soon after a mine exploded during the miners’ lunch break.”

There are more than 200,000 migrant workers in Hpakant region. The authority finds to difficult to solve related problems. More than 300 people died every year due to frequent landslides, according to the records from social organizations and police.

More than 20 villages near jade mine blocks are in danger of landslide. The floor level of Uru River is as high as 20 feet as jade mining companies from Hpakant region are carrying out indiscriminate disposals of soil wastes into Uru River and its tributaries. Since the previous 10 years, Hpakant and nearby villages are facing flooding.

At Least 20 Prospectors Killed in Lone Khin Slag Heap Collapse

By Zarni Mann

16 July 2018

MANDALAY — At least 20 prospectors were killed and several remain missing after a waste pile collapsed in the Lone Khin jade mining region of Kachin State on Saturday.

Dozens of people were injured in the incident.

The waste pile near a mine operated by Maha Mining Co. in Lone Khin’s Waikhar jade mining area collapsed as about 100 prospectors were searching it for jade residues on Saturday, according to local authorities.

“Fifteen bodies were unearthed and 45 people were injured. Eighteen people with serious injuries were sent to the Myitkyina General Hospital, while those with minor injuries were treated at hospitals in Lone Khin and Hpakant,” the duty officer at the Lone Khin police station told The Irrawaddy.

Police officials said the rescue operation was ongoing, adding that heavy rain may have triggered the collapse. The regional administration office provided some financial support to the victims’ families.

According to local witnesses, more than 100 prospectors were on the waste pile when it collapsed. They said the death toll was likely to rise above 15, as there were still people missing and several of the injured are in serious condition.

“We’ve heard that 10 people are missing and we’ve reported this to the rescue team. The death toll could go higher, as the rescuers are still looking for the missing. Hopefully, there will be no rain and the rescuers will be able to do their jobs and find the bodies,” said Ko Nawng Latt, director of Green Land, a local environmental conservation group.

Waste pile collapses are common in the Hpakant and Lone Khin jade mining region, and have claimed the lives of many small-time prospectors who search the huge hills of soil for jade residues.

Collapses are especially frequent in the monsoon season, when the region receives heavy rain and the earth is softened. However, financial need causes the prospectors to risk their lives and search the piles despite the danger.

Local civil society groups involved in environmental conservation in the Hpakant and Lone Khin region said the lack of rule of law in the region means more such incidents are likely.

“Local authorities are weak [on enforcing regulations]; their own security is at risk due to the many armed groups operating in the region,” Ko Nawng Latt said.

“The mining companies take advantage of the lawlessness of the region and do not follow the mining rules and regulations. Moreover, as long as the prospectors are willing to risk their lives to search for jade residues, such incidents will continue,” he added.



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