One dead, dozens missing in Myanmar mine landslide

One dead, dozens missing in Myanmar mine landslide
# 22 December 2021 10:07 (UTC +04:00)

At least one person has died and 70 are missing after a landslide occurred at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar, APA reports citing BBC.

Rescue operations are currently underway, with most of the victims believed to be illegal jade miners.

The landslide occurred in the Hpakant area of Kachin state at around 04:00 local time on Wednesday (21:30 GMT Tuesday).

Myanmar is the world's biggest source of jade but its mines have seen numerous accidents over the years.

The landslide is believed to have been caused by an overflow of rubble discarded from lorries to the open-pit mines.

The rubble creates large slopes that can be dangerous in an area denuded of trees, forcing those scavenging for fragments of the semi-precious stone to labour in hazardous conditions.

Jade mining is banned in Hpakant, but locals often defy regulations, driven by lack of employment and impoverished conditions that have worsened from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several days ago, at least 10 unskilled miners went missing in a landslide at a jade block in Hpakant.

In 2020, more than 160 people - most of whom were migrants - died in one of the worst disasters in Hpakant after mining waste collapsed into a lake.

A new gemstone mining law was passed in 2018, but critics say the government has too few inspectors with only limited authority to stop illegal practices.

Myanmar's jade trade is reported to be worth more than $30bn (£24bn) a year, with Hpakant being the site of the world's biggest jade mine.