At least 17 people are feared dead after a landslide trapped dozens of workers inside a Myanmar jade mine, sources and local media said Tuesday.
The incident came on Monday evening near Hpakant township in northern Kachin state — the same region where a massive landslide in 2020 entombed 300 workers in the country’s worst ever mine disaster.
Pictures of the scene showed the aftermath of the landslide, with a broad swathe of brown earth and rock covering the pockmarked side of a hill.
A local source said “17 bodies were found so far”, but AFP was unable to independently confirm these figures.
The source added that the mine’s owners — Yangon Technical and Trading Co., a firm linked to the country’s military which took power last year in a coup that sent the country into turmoil — had so far prevented rescue teams from entering the area.
Local media and sources in the area said that 40 people were buried in the landslide, which struck around 10:30 pm (1630 GMT).
Dozens die annually while working in Myan-mar’s highly lucrative but poorly regulated jade industry, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in neighbouring China.
Jade and other abundant natural resources in the country’s north — including timber, gold and amber — have helped finance both sides of a decades-long civil war between ethnic Kachin insurgents and the military.
Civilians are frequently trapped in the middle of the fight for control of the mines and their lucrative revenues, with a rampant drug and arms trade further curdling the conflict.
“The workers’ rights in jade mines are never en-sured by law — whenever they die in a landslide, they get a small compensation in the end,” said one local environmental activist, who declined to be named.—AFP