Scores Feared Dead in Mudslide at Disused Jade Mine in Hpakant

By Zarni Mann 23 April 2019

MANDALAY—Five bodies have been recovered and more than 50 people are missing following the collapse of a lake that formed on the site of a disused mine in Kachin State’s Hpakant jade mining region.

The steep sides of the abandoned jade mine that formed the lake collapsed on Monday night, releasing a torrent of mud and water that destroyed or buried everything in its path, said the locals.

According to local lawmakers, at least 54 people are presumed dead and about 40 pieces of heavy machinery were buried under the mud.

“The machinery belonged to Nine Dragon Mining Co. and Myanmar Thura Co. Most of the men who died were drivers working the night shift,” said U Tint Soe, a local member of Parliament representing Hpakant constituency.

“Fifty-four drivers were buried alive there, and the companies are searching for other missing persons,” he added.

According to police at Hpakant Police Station, rescue work was underway and five bodies had been exhumed so far.

“The number of missing persons reported by the companies is over 50. There may be more; we are still investigating. The rescuers have found five bodies and the rescue work is still going on,” said the duty officer at Hpakant Police Station.

According to the police, the excavation of a new jade mine right under the 5-acre-wide crater that formed the lake caused it to collapse.

KNDPC Mining Co., Nine Dragon Mining Co., Chung Brothers Mining Co. and Myanmar Thura Mining Co. all operate in the area affected by the mudslide.

Jade mine collapses and landslides are common in the Hpakant Jade mining area and claim numerous lives every year.