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Burmese rescue teams search for 25 missing in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Rescue workers reported yesterday that a landslide at an “unregulated” jade mine located in a remote part of Myanmar has resulted in at least 25 people missing. The incident happened on Sunday near Hpakant township in northern Kachin, an area infamous for a significant landslide incident that occurred back in 2020, burying numerous miners. Kachin is in the far north of Myanmar.

The latest event follows heavy rainfall and floods that engulfed a large part of the country.

The jade mining sector, known for its high profitability, remains largely unregulated. Migrant labourers within this industry regularly face hazardous working conditions, which frequently lead to fatal accidents. A rescue worker at the scene, who chose to remain anonymous, told AFP that approximately 25 individuals remain unaccounted for.

Due to the challenging accessibility of the area, a full list of missing persons is proving a challenge.

The worker told AFP how the intense rainfall caused a massive accumulation of soil, around 150-180 metres in height, resulting from mining activities, to destabilise and collapse. While search and rescue operations continue, some workers have returned to the site with hopes of discovering valuable jade.

To date, no fatalities have been confirmed. Another rescue worker confirmed that, despite concerns about potential secondary landslides, efforts to locate and rescue individuals remain ongoing.

The mine’s operations had been halted during the rainy season but individuals caught in the landslide are believed to be locals who were hoping to strike it rich by sifting through the mud for a few valuable gemstones.

The jade industry, often characterised by low-paid migrant labourers, experiences dozens of fatalities each year due to inadequate regulations. The gemstone, in high demand in neighbouring China, is at the core of a poorly regulated yet lucrative industry.

Despite continuous calls for reforms by environmental and human rights groups, Myanmar’s military coup in February2021 effectively derailed hopes for improvements in industry standards, as noted by international watchdogs.

Original story from AFP

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