More than 80 people are dead and 100 missing in a landslide on Sunday in one of Myanmar’s jade mines in the northernmost Kachin state, rescue officials said.
The landslide occurred close to a 200-feet-high mountain of dumped soil in the early hours of morning, burying 70 huts where most miners were sleeping, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
“We are seeing only dead bodies and no one knows how many people live there,” local official Nilar Myint told the AFP news agency.
Myanmar Red Cross along with local authorities in the landslide-hit area are continuing the rescue operation.
It is believed that those killed were rummaging through the mine in search of jade.
Hpakant is known for producing some of the world’s highest quality jade. However, the mines and the dump sites for debris are rife with hazards. According to reports, many migrants in the area often search the waste mound hoping to find some precious stones.
Jade is considered one of the most precious stones in Myanmar. According to the environmental advocacy group Global Witness, Myanmar’s jade production was valued at an estimated $31 billion in 2014, nearly half of the country’s GDP.
Residents in the area said Hpakant has suffered from at least five other similar incidents this year.