At least 30 jade miners believed dead in latest Hpakant landslide

Witnesses say the collapse of a hillside into a lake triggered a wave that was at least 40 feet high

More than 30 people are feared dead following a landslide at a jade mine in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township on Sunday, according to local sources.

The victims were working at a site near the village of Mana when part of a hillside suddenly dropped into a large lake formed by earlier excavation, the sources said.

A jade miner who witnessed the incident from a short distance away said that the landslide triggered a wave that was 40 to 50 feet high.

“When we saw the land collapse, we knew there would be a wave, so we quickly ran up the hill. That’s how we escaped,” he said.

He added that the miners were able to rescue several people by throwing water buckets attached to ropes to those who were still close to shore.

“The ones who were able to grab the buckets managed to escape,” he said, adding that some of the survivors had sustained head injuries.

A rescue worker said that around 10 people were taken to a hospital in the township’s administrative centre for treatment following the incident. At least 30 others were still missing and presumed dead, he added.

“It’s not likely they’re still alive,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now on Monday.

Some sources put the number of casualties as high as 80, but this could not be confirmed.

Landslides are a regular and often deadly occurrence in Hpakant, where poorly regulated jade mines make millions of dollars for companies with ties to 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, including many who scavenge for jade on massive—and unstable—tailings piles.

In December 2021, as many as 100 people were killed by the collapse of a slag heap that also buried a number of nearby shops.

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