6 June 2024

At least 70 people were missing and one confirmed dead on Wednesday following a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, a member of the rescue team told AFP.

“About 70-100 people are missing in a landslide that happened around 4:00 am” at Hpakant mine in Kachin state, said rescue team member Ko Nyi.

“We’ve sent 25 injured people to hospital while we’ve found one dead.”

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

Dozens die each year while working in Myanmar’s highly lucrative but poorly regulated jade industry, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in neighbouring China.

The fight to control the mines and the revenues frequently traps local civilians in the middle, with a rampant drug and arms trade further curdling the conflict.

Last year heavy rainfall triggered a massive landslide in Hpakant — the heart of Myanmar’s jade trade in northern Kachin state — that entombed nearly 300 miners.

A February military coup also effectively extinguished any chance of reforms to the dangerous and unregulated industry started by ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, watchdog Global Witness said in a report this year.