Dozens feared to be missing after landslide at Myanmar jade mine

Jade miners reported to be missing after deadly landslide in Hpakant, the center of Myanmar's secretive jade industry.

 Rescue workers search for bodies of victims under the debris and mud after a landslide in Mottama, Mon state, Myanmar, August 11, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/ANN WANG)
Rescue workers search for bodies of victims under the debris and mud after a landslide in Mottama, Mon state, Myanmar, August 11, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANN WANG)

At least one person was killed and dozens were missing, feared dead, after a landslide dislodged waste at a jade mine in northern Myanmar and swept them into a lake early on Wednesday, rescue workers and a civil society group said.

The landslide occurred in the remote Hpakant area of Kachin State at around 4 a.m. (2130 GMT on Tuesday), Dashi Naw Lawn, an official at the Kachin Network Development Foundation said.

About 80 people were swept into the lake, the official said.

Rescue workers told Reuters one body had been spotted floating in the water and they feared all the others had perished in the latest tragedy to hit Myanmar's poorly regulated jade industry.

As night fell, some rescue teams had called off their searches, and although others pressed on there were no reports anyone had been rescued.

 Rescue workers search for bodies of victims under the debris and mud after a landslide in Mottama, Mon state, Myanmar, August 11, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/ANN WANG) Rescue workers search for bodies of victims under the debris and mud after a landslide in Mottama, Mon state, Myanmar, August 11, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/ANN WANG)

Local media outlets also reported dozens were missing in the incident in Hpakant, the center of Myanmar's secretive jade industry which draws poor workers from across Myanmar in search of gems mostly for export to China. I

Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines of Hpakant. In a landslide last weekend, media reported at least six people were killed.

Economic pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have drawn more migrants to the jade mines even as conflict has flared since Myanmar's military seized power in a coup in February.

The ousted government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had pledged to clean up the industry when it took power in 2016, but activists say little has changed.

In July last year, more than 170 people, many of them migrants, died https://www.reuters.com/article/myanmar-mine-pickers-idINKBN24B1SV in one of the worst disasters in Hpakant after mining waste collapsed into a lake.

Myanmar produces 90% of the world's jade. Most comes from Hpakant, where rights groups say mining firms with links to military elites and ethnic armed groups make billions of dollars a year.