The Irrawaddy

At Least 9 Missing in Hpakant Landslide

MANDALAY — At least nine people are missing after a mining waste pile collapsed in the Hpakant jade mining region of Kachin State on Tuesday.

A waste pile of the Ayar Yadana jade mining company collapsed early Tuesday morning, while at least 40 prospectors where at the site searching for jade residue.

“Witnesses said about 40 people were there, but the missing persons list we received had nine names,” said a police officer from the Hpakant police station.

The police said search and rescue efforts were ongoing.

“Due to rain and the waste pile being deep and steep, it is very difficult for rescuers to do their job,” said the police officer. “We aren’t sure when they’ll be able to do so.”

Locals blame heavy rain in the region for the incident; however, they call on authorities to enact strict rules and regulations to stop disasters like this from repeatedly happening at waste pile sites.

The incident on Tuesday is the second tragic incident in one week. On July 16, a collapsed pile of mining waste in the Lone Khin region claimed 20 lives and injured dozens.

After the incident in Lone Khin, the regional minister of natural resources and environmental conservation reportedly visited the region and investigated the mining companies and the waste piles.

“We want these tragic accidents to stop. We hope that the minister will find a way as soon as possible, and that both the companies and the prospectors will follow whatever regulations the authorities put in place,” said U Khin Myint, a local miner in the Hpakant jade mining region who witnessed the incident on Tuesday.