Guwahati: In an unfortunate incident, at least 113 people have died after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar trapped workers under a mound of refuse on Thursday, July 2.
The incident took place early on Thursday in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin. The migrant workers were reportedly trapped while scavenging for the precious gemstones in the sharp mountainous terrain in the Hpakant area.
Myanmar Fire Department stated on Facebook that relentless rainfall has caused the landslide "The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud," the statement said, putting the death toll at 113. "The search and rescue process is still ongoing", it further added. Thereafter, pictures shared on a Facebook page showed a search and rescue team wade through a valley apparently flooded by the mudslide.
It has been reported that fatal landslides are common in the area, and the victims often from impoverished communities who risk their lives hunting the translucent green gemstone.
Official sales of jade in Myanmar are worth $750.04m in 2016-2017, according to data published by the government as part of an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. However, experts believe the true value of the industry, which mainly exports to China, is much larger.
Northern Myanmar's abundant natural resources - including jade, timber, gold, and amber - have also helped finance both sides of a decades-long civil war between ethnic Kachin and the military.
It is to be noted that dozens die each year while working in the country's lucrative but poorly regulated jade industry, which uses low- paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in China The fight to control the mines and the revenues they bring frequently traps local civilians in the middle.
Another major landslide had occurred in the region in November 2015, which left at least 116 people dead.
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