Landslide at Myanmar jade mine kills at least 50

YANGON (AP) — A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar killed 50 people yesterday, the central government said, though a local lawmaker said the toll was nearly twice as high.

The Ministry of Information cited the local fire service when giving the death toll at the site of the landslide in Hpakant in Kachin state.

The area is 950 kilometres north of Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, and is the centre of the world’s biggest and most lucrative jade mining industry.

A lawmaker from Hpakant, Khin Maung Myint, said local rescue services told him 99 bodies had been recovered and 54 injured people were sent to three hospitals.

The website of 7Day News Journal reported earlier that 200 people were unaccounted for.

Other details of the accident were not immediately available.

Accidents at such mining sites causing multiple casualties are not rare.

The victims are normally freelance miners who settle near giant mounds of discarded earth that has been mined in bulk by heavy machinery. The freelance miners who scavenge for bits of jade usually work and live at the base of the mounds of earth, which become particularly unstable during the rainy season.

Rescue workers use poles to carry a body shrouded in plastic sheet in Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar. PHOTO: AP