Myanmar: More than 50 dead in the landslide
Published: April 23, 2019
In a major landslide in the jade mining area of the northern Kachin state of Myanmar at least 50 people have been feared to be killed. The accident has taken place close to the Maw Wun Kalay village at the Hpakant Township after the collapse of a mud-filter pond which is based at an old mining site.
It is reported that at least 54 staffers from two private companies have been buried under a mound of waste from the mining site along with 40 machines and vehicles. It is said that the people will not be surviving as they are buried under mud. The retrieval of bodies is also very difficult. This year has so far claimed the lives of at least 20 people in various collapses and landslides at the mining sites.
Most of the people have been identified as the migrant workers who are involved in scavenging jade or pieces of other precious stones. Hpakant area comprises the centre of the jade mining industry of the world and produces some of the best jade in the world. As per the Global Witness, an environmental advocacy group, the production of jade in Myanmar was to the tune of $31 billion in 2014. It is said that the jade industry in the country is dominated by various companies and businessmen who had links with the last military government. There are open mines of jade in the Hpakant which has turned the whole terrain into a massive moonscape. It is common to see fatal landslides in which mostly the impoverished communities are often hit. There has been a huge crash in 2015 in which nearly 100 people had lost their lives. It is said that the jade industry is dominated by growing demand from China where the green gem is a prized item. The huge reserves of natural resources of Myanmar which include jade, timber, amber and gold are instrumental in financing the long civil war between the Kachin rebels and the Myanmar military.
This is seen as the one of the worst disasters to hit the shadowy jade industry of the country.