Hpakant jade mine landslide kills 9

By AFP

YANGON — A landslide in Kachin State’s jade mining region has killed 9 people, a local official said Saturday, the latest fatal incident to strike the shadowy billion-dollar industry.

The men were believed to be searching for jade when a wall of unstable earth collapsed late Thursday night.

Five bodies were found buried beneath the rubble on Thursday and three more were found on Friday, said Kyaw Swar Aung, the administrator of Hpakant Township — the heart of Myanmar’s jade-producing region.

Rescuers also found two injured men, but one was pronounced dead at the hospital, he added. 

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

“The total number of dead bodies found was nine. Their funerals are today,” he told AFP.

Myanmar is the chief source of the world’s finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is highly prized in China.

But the secretive trade is poorly regulated and enormously dangerous.

The area around Hpakant has suffered a string of deadly landslides in recent years, with a major incident in November 2015 leaving more than 100 dead.

Numerous other smaller accidents have left scores more dead or injured.

The victims are usually impoverished locals or itinerant workers scouring the area for pieces of of jade left behind by the industrial diggers that have turned the region into a moonscape of environmental destruction.

While the mining firms — many linked to the junta-era military elite — are thought to be raking in huge sums, local people say they are shut off from the bounty.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar