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Landslide at jade mine in Myanmar kills more than 100 people
November 23, 2015

A land slide near a jade mine in northern Myanmar killed more than 100 people.

Reuters reported that hopes faded on Monday that any of an estimated 100 people still missing on Nov. 23, three days after the slide, would be found alive. The landslide buried an encampment near the mine, and officials said it was still unclear how many people were living in the area.
Rescue workers had recovered 113 bodies when the search was suspended on Monday evening, Khin Kyaw, a local police officer, told Reuters. Two of the bodies recovered were women, he said.

Heavy equipment has been brought in to assist the digging in Hpakant, the site of the landslide in a mountainous area in the northern Kachin State that produces some of the world's highest-quality jade.

"We just don't know how many people exactly were buried since we don't have any data on people living there," Tin Swe Myint, head of the Hpakant Township Administration Department, said.

"It was just a slum with these ... workers living in makeshift tents."

The mines and soil dump sites are hazardous and deaths among the many migrant workers who pick through the slag piles for jade are common.

An official from the Myanmar Gems Enterprise, a division of the Ministry of Mines that oversees the mining and sales of jade and other gems, said that landslides at dump sites were "very common."

Several companies had dumped mining debris at the 200-acre dump site, said Tin Swe Myint. The dump was near a mine controlled by the Triple One Jade Mining Company, he said.

Much of the jade that is mined in Hpakant is believed to be smuggled to neighboring China, where the stone is highly valued.

The value of jade production in Myanmar is estimated to have been around $31 billion in 2014, according to researchers from environmental advocacy group Global Witness, which published a report on the opaque sector earlier this year.

Just over a third of that value showed up in official Chinese trade data.
 

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 Mynanmar    Jade