Military Sacks its Appointed Kachin Security Affairs Minister After Kachin Jade Disaster

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 6 July 2020

Yangon – Myanmar’s military has taken action against Kachin State’s security and border affairs minister and an officer commanding a military unit over the latest landslide in Hpakant that killed more than 170 jade prospectors, according to the military’s information team.

The statement said the minister, Colonel Nay Lin Tun, and the commanding officer had been moved back to their former positions after being found primarily responsible for the accident.

The two officers will face further action, it said. A new minister would be appointed, the statement added.

A presidential investigation was set up on July 3 and has not yet completed its report.

The President’s Office appointed U Ohn Win, the minister for resources and environmental conservation, will chair the inquiry committee, which will include the military-appointed home affairs minister Lieutenant General Soe Htut, social welfare minister Dr. Win Myat Aye, Kachin State chief minister Dr. Khat Aung, U Min Thu, the director of the Resources and Environmental Conservation Ministry, and U Htun Zaw, a Kachin State government secretary.

The President’s Office has assigned the committee to find the main reason for the landslide and reveal those responsible.

The group has been assigned to assist the families of those injured and killed in the accident.

It has also been asked to make suggestions to avoid further accidents.

U Darshi La Sai, Kachin State’s resource and environmental conservation minister, said the committee left Kachin State on Monday after inspecting the site and meeting representatives, injured jade prospectors and the relatives of those killed.

The investigators also researched five jade mines which were deemed as at possible risk of collapse. They instructed the state authorities to prevent prospectors from entering the sites.

Thlandslide occurred in Hpakant on Thursday morning. It killed at least 172 prospectors and more than 50 were injured. About 20 people are still missing.

Dr. Win Myat Aye said on Sunday that his ministry and the national disaster management committee would provide 500,000 kyats (US$366) in assistance to each family of the 172 dead and 200,000 kyats ($146) to each of the 54 people who were injured.

The ministry has donated 11 million kyats ($8,040) to civil society organizations helping with the rescue operations.

U Darshi La Sai said they will educate prospectors to avoid further accidents.

The Kachin State government reported that there were 19 landslides in Hpakant and Lone Kin in 2019 and 94 deaths. By June this year, 30 people had reportedly died in landslides.

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