One dead, at least 70 missing after landslide in jade mine in Myanmar (rescue team)

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Yangon (AFP) – A landslide in a jade mine in northern Myanmar killed at least one on Wednesday and left dozens missing, a member of the rescue team told AFP.

Dozens of people die each year working in the country’s lucrative but poorly regulated jade trade, which uses low-paid migrant workers to mine a much-coveted gem in neighboring China.

The disaster struck the Hpakant mine near the Chinese border in Kachin state, where billions of dollars of jade are said to be cleaned from barren hills every year.

“About 70 to 100 people are missing” following the landslide which occurred around 4:00 am (9:30 pm GMT Tuesday), said Ko Nyi, a member of the rescue team.

“We sent 25 wounded to hospital while we found one dead.”

About 200 rescuers were seeking to recover bodies, some using boats to search for the dead in a nearby lake, he added.

A photo posted on social media by a local reporter who said he was at the scene showed dozens of people standing by the lake, with boats launching boats into the water.

Local media outlet Kachin News Group said 20 miners were killed in the landslide.

Myanmar Fire Services said their staff from Hpakant and the nearby town of Lone Khin were involved in the rescue efforts, but gave no death or missing figures.

Murderous industry

Civilians are often trapped amid the struggle for control of Myanmar’s mines and their lucrative incomes, with rampant drug and arms trafficking further dampening the conflict.

Heavy rains last year triggered a massive landslide in Hpakant that left nearly 300 miners buried.

A military coup in February also extinguished any possibility of reform of the dangerous and unregulated industry initiated by the government of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, watchdog Global Witness said in a report this year. .

The coup also sparked fighting in Kachin state between Kachin’s independence army, which has been waging an insurgency for decades, and the Burmese military, Global Witness added.

In May, the military launched airstrikes against the group, which later told AFP that it shot down a gunship during heavy clashes in the far north of the country.

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