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Myanmar landslide: Over 80 feared missing after a catastrophic movement hits jade mine

The incident occurred at 4am in the Hpakant area of Kachin State according to a civil society group and media reports. An official from Kachin Network Development Foundation said more than 80 people have been swept into a lake by mining waste.

Dashi Lawan, an official at the civil society group said: “Authorities arrived at the site around 7am and are conducting the search.”

Mizzima news portal and Khit Thit media also reported dozens appeared to be missing in the incident in Hpakant, which is the centre of Myanmar’s jade industry.

The BBC reports that the landslide was caused by an overflow of rubble dumped by lorries at the open-pit mines. The rocks create slopes which can be dangerous for labourers in an area stripped of trees.

Last weekend, the area witnessed another landslide that claimed six lives, a report said.

Myanmar’s jade mines are notoriously dangerous.

Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines of Hpakant, which are poorly regulated and draw impoverished workers from across Myanmar in search of gems mostly for export to China.

Hpakant is home to the world’s biggest jade mine with the trade in Myanmar reported to be worth more than $30 billion (£24bn) a year.


In 2018, a new gemstone mining law was passed, but critics say the government does not have enough inspectors and there is only limited authority to stop illegal practices.

Myanmar produces 90 percent of the world’s jade with most coming from Hpakant where rights groups say the profits go to mining firms with links to military elites and ethnic armed groups.

In a separate development, Myanmar’s oldest rebel force has called for international help to establish a no-fly zone near the country’s border with Thailand.

It comes after a warning of clashes with the army resulting in civilians being targeted by air strikes.

Fighting has escalated between the army and the Karen National Union (KNU), prompting thousands of people to seek refuge in Thailand.

Reuters reports that about 3,400 people have taken shelter in the country over recent days.

Thousands more are stranded on the Myanmar side of the border, waiting to cross.

In a statement released this week, the KNU warned of a “high possibility” of military air strikes on civilians.

The head of the KNU’s foreign affairs department, Saw Taw Nee, told Reuters: “These air strikes won’t target military bases but civilian bases as in schools, hospitals, houses and villages.”

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military junta did not answer calls seeking comment.

Additional reporting by Jon King