Dozens feared dead after landslide at Myanmar jade mine

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This photo taken and received via an anonymous source on December 22, 2021 shows rescue officials preparing to search for missing people after a landslide at a jade mine in Hpakant, Kachin state.
This photo taken and received via an anonymous source on December 22, 2021 shows rescue officials preparing to search for missing people after a landslide at a jade mine in Hpakant, Kachin state.
Handout / ANONYMOUS / AFP
  • The landslide occurred in the remote Hpakant area of Kachin State.
  • About 80 people were swept into a nearby lake.
  • Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines of Hpakant.


At least one person was killed, and dozens were missing and feared dead after a landslide dislodged waste at a jade mine in northern Mynamar and swept them into a lake early on Wednesday, rescue workers and a civil society group said.

The landslide occurred in the remote Hpakant area of Kachin State at around 4:00 (21:30 GMT on Tuesday), said Dashi Naw Lawn, an official at the Kachin Network Development Foundation.

About 80 people were swept into the lake, the official said.

Rescue workers told Reuters one body had been spotted floating in the water. They feared all the others had perished in the latest tragedy to hit Myanmar's poorly regulated jade industry.

As night fell, some rescue teams had called off their searches, and although others pressed on, there were no reports anyone had been rescued.

Local media outlets also reported dozens were missing in the incident in Hpakant, the centre of Myanmar's secretive jade industry, which draws poor workers from across Myanmar in search of gems primarily for export to China. 

Deadly landslides and other accidents are common in the mines of Hpakant. Media reported at least six people were killed in a landslide last weekend. 

Economic pressures due to the Covid-19 pandemic have drawn more migrants to the jade mines even as conflict has flared since Myanmar's military seized power in a coup in February.

The ousted government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had pledged to clean up the industry when it took power in 2016, but activists say little has changed.

In July last year, more than 170 people, many of them migrants, died in one of the worst disasters in Hpakant after mining waste collapsed into a lake.

Myanmar produces 90% of the world's jade. Most come from Hpakant, where rights groups say mining firms with links to military elites and ethnic armed groups make billions of dollars annually.


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