25 bodies recovered at site of Hpakant landslide

The victims were killed when part of a hillside slid into a large lake in the jade-mining region on Sunday

Rescue workers say they have recovered the bodies of 25 people killed in a landslide at a jade mine in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township on Sunday.

Speaking to Myanmar Now on Tuesday evening, a member of one of the groups involved in the effort to find victims of the disaster said that the bodies began appearing earlier that day.

“They were dredged up using ropes dragged from a boat. Some have been identified, but others that haven’t are being held here at the scene,” said the rescue worker, adding that efforts to recover more bodies were still ongoing.

At least 30 people are believed to have been killed on Sunday when part of a hillside fell into a large lake formed by previous excavation at a mine site near the village of Mana in Hpakant.

Miners present at the time managed to rescue around 10 people who had been swept away by the landslide and the ensuing wave, which some witnesses said was at least 40 feet high.

Landslides are a common occurrence in Hpakant, especially during the rainy season. Irresponsible mining practices have been blamed for destabilising mountains torn apart by heavy machinery to extract the region’s famous jade, most of which is exported to China.

Jade and gold mining have also decimated the Uru River, a major tributary of the Chindwin River that passes through Hpakant Township.

Hpakant’s jade mines are heavily exploited by companies associated with both Myanmar’s military and the Kachin Independence Army.

The area, which is also notorious for violence linked to armed conflict and criminal activity, attracts thousands of workers from around the country.

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