Wednesday 24 April 2019

Mudslide at Myanmar jade mine kills fifty seven.

Fifty seven workers are believed to have died following a mudslide at a jade mine in Kachin State, Myanmar on Monday 22 April 2019.  The incident happened close to the village of Maw Wun Kalay near Hpakant in Mohniyn District at about 11.30 pm local time, when part of a retaining wall around a filtration pond (pond in which soft sediments are washed in order to extract gemstones) collapsed, sending a surge of liquid mud and waste through a living quarters used by workers from two companies operating in the area, Myanmar Thura Gems and Shwe Nagar Koe Kaung. It is thought to be highly unlikely there will be any survivors.

Rescue workers at the scene of a mudslide that engulfed the living quarters of 57 workers near Maw Wan Kaley in Kachin State, Myanmar, this week. Myanmar Fire Services Department.

Myanmar is the world's largest producer of jade, though much of this is produced (along with other precious and semi-precious minerals such as amber) at unregulated (and often illegal) artisanal mines in the north of the country, from where it is smuggled into neighbouring China. Accidents at such mines are extremely common, due to the more-or-less total absence of any safety precautions at the site. At many sites this is made worse by the unregulated use of explosives to break up rocks, often leading to the weakening of rock faces, which can then collapse without warning. The majority of people in this industry are migrant workers from the surrounding countryside, not registered with any local authority, which can make it difficult for rescuers to identify victims following such events, or even gain accurate assessments of the number of people likely to have been involved in such accidents.

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