缅甸: dozens feared missing after landslide at jade mine

At least one person is dead and dozens more are missing after a landslide at a jade mine in northern 缅甸, a member of a rescue team has said.

The landslide in the Hpakant area of Kachin state happened at around 4am on Wednesday, local time, and there were fears up to 100 people were missing. Ko Nyi, a member of a rescue team, 说: “We’ve sent 25 injured people to hospital while we’ve found one dead.”

关于 200 rescuers were searching to recover bodies, and some were using boats to search for the dead in a nearby lake, 他说.

A photo posted on social media by a local journalist who said he was at the scene showed dozens of people standing on the edge of the lake, with some launching boats into the water.

Local outlet Kachin News Group said 20 miners had been killed in the landslide, while Myanmar’s fire services said its personnel from Hpakant and nearby town of Lone Khin were involved in the rescue effort but gave no figures of dead or missing.

An official at the Kachin Network Development Foundation, a civil society group, told Reuters that up to 80 people could have been swept into the lake by mining waste.

“Authorities arrived at the site around 7am and are conducting the search,” Dashi Naw Lawn, an official at the civil society group, said by telephone. In another landslide last weekend, media reported at least six people died.

Hundreds of diggers have returned to Hpakant during the rainy season to prospect in the treacherous open-cast mines, according to a local activist, despite a junta ban on digging until March 2022.

“They mine at night and in the morning they tip out the earth and rock,” said the activist, adding the added weight had caused the land to slip down into the lake.

Ko Nyi of the rescue team also said increased pressure from the weight of dumped soil and rock had pushed the ground downhill into the lake.

Myanmar’s jade mines are notoriously dangerous. 在 2020 多于 160 people were buried alive after a wave of mud swept through a mine in Hpakant, 尽管 54 people died in 2019 when a lake broke its banks.

Conditions are treacherous for the low-paid migrant workers who toil in the mines, particularly during monsoon season. Equipment failures and other accidents are common in the industry, which is controlled by the military elite and private conglomerates.

People from impoverished ethnic communities, who search for scraps left behind by big firms, are often the victims of such disasters. Hpakant is in Kachin state, home to the world’s largest and most valuable jade deposits, but little of the profits trickles down into the country.

在 2014 一种 报告 by Global Witness put the value of jade production in Myanmar at about $31bn, nearly half of Myanmar’s GDP that year. The vast majority is smuggled to China, where jade is highly sought-after and associated with royalty, bypassing tax authorities.

The ousted government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had pledged to clean up the industry when it took power in 2016, but activists say little has changed.

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