Disasters & Accidents

At least 113 killed in Myanmar jade mine collapse

Yangon, Myanmar, Jul 2 (efe-epa).- At least 113 people were killed Thursday during an accident at a jade mine in northern Myanmar after a mud avalanche buried a group of informal miners, official sources said.

The incident occurred when miners were collecting jade from the excavated slopes in a mine in Hpakant, a remote town in Kachin state, the Myanmar Fire Services Department said on its Facebook page.

According to the Department, the accident took place at around 8 am in five abandoned sites, where informal miners generally work in precarious conditions.

Firefighters raised the death toll to 113, up from 50, although they have only been able to recover 26 bodies so far.

Hiete Ko, a 38-year-old local, told EFE on telephone that he has seen at least 100 corpses on the site although this has not been officially confirmed.

Accidents inside jade mines are a common occurrence in Myanmar.

In April, at least 54 people died in another landslide at a mine in Hpakant, which is located about 800 kilometers (497 miles) north of the capital, Naypyidaw.

The non-profit Global Witness denounced in 2015 the precarious situation in which jade miners work in sites that are often exploited by guerrilla organizations, warlords, drug traffickers and corrupt members of the army, among other groups.

Myanmar is the world’s largest producer of jadeite, a highly prized variety of jade that is extracted mainly in the mountains of Kachin state.

Tens of thousands of Myanmar youth come to Hpakant, the so-called “Land of Jade,” with the hope of escaping poverty and making money through jade mining.

But many of these migrant workers instead become addicted to cheap heroin and other drugs.

Although the Hpakant area is a harsh and poor region, it generates vasts amounts of wealth for some, as buried within its soil are significant deposits of the rare mineral jadeite, the world’s highest-quality type of jade. EFE-EPA


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