At least 12 people have died in a landslide Tuesday in northern Myanmar’s jade mining region. The tragedy hit Kachin state’s Hpakant town just five months after a similar incident there left dozens of people missing.
About 15 people have been injured while an estimated 30 others are missing following Tuesday's landslide. Rescue operation has been suspended due to rain, amid fears it could likely trigger another landslide, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
“We retrieved seven dead bodies last night and five more this morning,” a police officer in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw told AFP.
Nilar Myint, a local official in Hpakant, told the news agency that around 50 people were searching for precious stones when an earth wall inside the mine collapsed.
“We are checking homes near the landslide to see who is missing among their friends and relatives,” Myint reportedly said.
Jade mining generates piles of waste rock, and workers climb the heaps to look for the precious stones left behind by large-scale industrial mining firms. However, this sometime leads to such landslides.
According to an October report by advocacy group Global Witness, the value of Myanmar jade produced in 2014 was $31 billion — equivalent to almost half the gross domestic product for the whole country — and said that the trade might be the “biggest natural resource heist in modern history.”