17 Killed, 1 Missing in Landslide in Hpakant Jade Mining Area

By Zarni Mann 29 July 2019

MANDALAY—At least 17 people died and two were injured in a landslide in the Hpakant jade mining area of Kachin State on Sunday, with one person still missing.

Following heavy rains, a hillside standing about 500 feet high collapsed into a lake below, causing large waves to strike the surrounding slopes and triggering a landslide in the area around the mining operation. The landslide buried 15 workers and three policemen working as security guards for the Yarzahtarni jade mining company located downhill from the area of the collapse.

“We’ve found 17 bodies and are still looking for the remaining person. A total of 15 workers from Yarzahtarni mining company and three policemen were killed in the landslide,” said the duty officer at Hpakant Police Station, including the missing policeman in the toll.

The police said the landslide occurred early in the morning while the workers and policemen were asleep.

According to police, a total of five policemen were working as security guards at the mine. Two managed to escape with serious injuries and were admitted to Myitkyina Hospital.

“They both sustained serious injuries, one to the head and the other to the hip. However, their injuries are not life threatening and they are now stable,” said the duty officer. “The incident is under investigation so we can’t provide any details yet.”

To prevent loss of life in landslides, jade mining in the Hpakant area is halted during the monsoon season due to the heavy rains.

Deadly landslide and waste-pile collapses are common in the Hpakant jade mining area, and have killed and injured many miners.

In April this year, 59 people died when the sides of an elevated mud lake that had formed on the site of an abandoned mine gave way.

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