At Least 4 Killed in Hpakant Landslide

By Zarni Mann 26 June 2015

At least 20 people remained trapped on Friday after a landslide at a jade mine near Lone Khin village, around 15 km north of Hpakant in Kachin State.

According to local officials, the bodies of four men were retrieved from the rubble while five injured men were taken to Lone Khin and Hpakant hospitals for treatment after the landslide at the site of the Moepin jade mine on Thursday.

“Rescuers are still searching for victims. We have only received four dead bodies and five injured men so far,” a duty officer from Lone Khin police station told The Irrawaddy.

The officer described the victims as small-scale miners who were searching for gemstones on a mountainside.

“We don’t know how many people were buried under the soil or what caused the landslide yet. More than 20 people were believed to be in the area searching for gemstones,” he said.

The mine is operated by Yadanar Yaung Chi, according to police in Lone Khin, and work was suspended at the site around one month ago for the monsoon season. It is not believed that any of the victims of Thursday’s landslide were company employees.

Local miner La Thaung described witnessing the moment the mountain slope gave way.

“There were more than 20 small-scale miners who were searching for jade in piles of waste soil on the mountainside. The soil suddenly slid down and buried almost everyone under the debris,” said La Thaung, adding that heavy rain had fallen in the area in recent days.

Landslides at jade mine sites in and around Hpakant in northern Burma are common, due in part to the unregulated use of explosives and poor safety regulations.

Independent small-scale miners face additional risks working by hand on often unstable land to pick through the detritus left by mining companies for valuable pieces of jade.

In late March, a rockslide at a jade mine near Hpakant killed at least nine miners and a similar incident killed two people in January.