Myanmar: At least 50 die in jade mine landslide

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At least 50 people have died after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, according to officials.

 

The incident took place early on Thursday in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state after a bout of heavy rainfall, the Myanmar Fire Services Department said on Facebook.

“The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud,” the statement said, putting the death toll at 50. “The search and rescue process is still ongoing.”

Photos posted on the Facebook page showed a search and rescue team wading through a valley apparently flooded by the mudslide.

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Fatal landslides are common in the area, the victims often from impoverished communities who risk their lives hunting the translucent green gemstone.

Official sales of jade in Myanmar were worth $750.04m in 2016-2017, according to data published by the government as part of an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

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Northern Myanmar’s abundant natural resources – including jade, timber, gold and amber – have also helped finance both sides of a decades-long civil war between ethnic Kachin and the military.

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The fight to control the mines and the revenues they bring frequently traps local civilians in the middle.

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