Death Toll Rises in East Burma Mining Accident

By May Sitt Paing 13 May 2013

Rescuers are continuing to find victims after heavy rains and landslides earlier this month caused a mine to collapse in east Burma’s Shan State, with the death toll surpassing 30 last week, according to local reports.

Col. Zaw Win, a subcontractor at the gold mine in Shwe Min Phone village, Kalaw Township, told The Irrawaddy late last week that 36 people had been found dead, including Col. Thura Pyone Cho, who was overseeing the mining operations, after the mine collapsed late on May 2.

Eight people were still missing, he said, adding that rescuers continued to search for survivors.

The mine, owned by Geo Asia Industry and Mining Company, collapsed at about 11 pm on May 2 following heavy rains. Sixteen night-shift workers were trapped and killed inside, while others drowned along the river banks.

Many of the workers who had come to the mine from other townships returned home after the accident, Col. Zaw Win said.

“There are over 10,000 workers here. After the accident, half the workers have gone home,” he said. “So it’s very difficult for the mine to operate.”

He said compensation had been given to injured workers and the families of those killed in the accident.

Geo Asia, which has been running the mining project in south Shan State for a year, lost several million kyat in the accident, he added.

Local residents said 16 bodies were recovered inside the gold mine and the rest were found outside.

“The company is still finding casualties in the gold mine,” added Ko Maung Htein, a local resident.