50 Dead in Myanmar Landslide

50 Dead in Myanmar Landslide50 Dead in Myanmar Landslide

As many as 50 people are feared dead and dozens missing at the jade mines in Hpakant, Kachin state, 350 km north of the city of Mandalay—at the heart of Myanmar’s billion dollar jade industry, France 24 reported.

“We started searching and rescuing people this morning and found five bodies. According to witnesses, about 50 people are still missing,” said Tint Swe Myint, administrator of Hpakant town.

Other officials declined to give any numbers, emphasizing that the rescue mission was still underway. One man, also an administration official, said the numbers being reported were grossly exaggerated.

The same area had been hit by a massive landslide in November , killing at least 115 people. Locals have reported that dozens more have died throughout the year in smaller accidents.

The victims in Myanmar’s jade mining accidents have included many migrant workers picking through the heaps of waste left behind by industrial mining firms to stumble across a previously overlooked piece of jade.

Wealthy, elite families run the mines at a great profit and their critics accuse them of subjecting seasonal staff to unfit working conditions.

Myanmar is the source of virtually all of the world’s finest jade. The region around Hpakant in particular produces up to 90% of the gemstone sold in the global market.