Another landslide has occurred in the jade mining areas of Myanmar’s northern state of Kachin with the latest at an illegal claiming at least 13 lives. There were also at least 15 injured but dozens more are believed to have been buried.
The landslide occurred on a mountain of waste from jade mines in Weikha village in the Hpakant region, which is the centre of the money-spinning industry in Kachin. Massive chunks of jade are mined with heavy machines, but small pieces get left behind in the waste, which is piled up in huge mountains outside the mines.
Villagers routinely scavenge through these unstable piles of dirt and rocks to look for the small pieces, but often become victims of landslides.
The latest landslide followed heavy rain and resulted in the artisanal workers being buried beneath mud and waste rock.
A lawmaker from Hpakant told Reuters that workers were digging illegally in the abandoned mine when the wall gave way. He said the pit was several hundred feet deep and unstable, making rescue efforts difficult for fear of another collapse.
Last November, a mountain of earth excavated from mines gave way, smashing into a settlement and burying more than 100 mine workers as they slept. Another major landslide occurred a month later and lust weeks ago another landslip killed 13.
The new elected National League for Democracy government of Aung San Suu Kyi has promised to restrict mining and improve safety conditions, but details on exact measures have been limited. Speaking to parliament on May 11, Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Ohn Win said the government would enact legislation but gave no time frame for implementation.