More than 126 miners are reported to be killed in a Jade mine collapse in Hpakant area of Kachin state of northern Myanmar, on Thursday. The authorities said, dozens more are missing and unaccounted for and the death toll may go up as further details emerge.
The place is located about 950 kilometres north of Myanmar’s biggest city Yangon. As per reports, due to heavy rainfall, a heap of mining waste collapsed into a lake and buried many workers under mud and water.
The resume team reached the site and recovered 126 dead bodies, said the fire service department. Tar Lin Maung, a local official with the information ministry stated that other bodies are still in the mud and they are trying to find them out. The Hpakant jade mining site is the biggest Jade mining centre in the world which attracts workers across Myanmar in search of gems. A good piece of jade, worth tens of thousands of dollars, which is enough to change their lives.
A large amount of the extracted jade in Myanmar is exported into China where it is considered as a symbol of virtue and power. The so-called “stone of heaven” is also believed to ward off evil spirits and improve health.
Land sliding and other accidents are common in the poorly regulated mines of Hpakant. People in the area work in perilous conditions, scrambling up and down the steep hills of rubble and lose shale. Most of the workers in the area are unregistered migrants which makes it hard to determine exactly how many people are actually missing when accidents happen.
One year back in 2019, 50 people died and in 2015 as many as 100 people died due to the mine collapse which strengthened calls to strengthen the industry. The government previously promised to clean up the jade business, but the fatal incidents continue to happen.