Nineteen people have now been confirmed dead following a landslide at a jade mine at Seikhmu near Hpakant in Kachin State, Myanmar, on Sunday 28 July 2019. The incident happened at about 2.30 in the morning local time, at a concession operated by the Yarzahtarni Jade Mining Company, and swept through an encampment where workers at the mine were sleeping, with several of those killed thought to have been security guards rather than miners.
Rescue workers at the scene of a landslide at a jade mine in Kachin State, Myanmar, on 28 July 2019.
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.
The incident occurred following several hours of rain in the area associated with the Southeast Asian Southwest Monsoon, which has also caused a series of landslips and flash floods in the area.
Diagrammatic representation of wind and rainfall patterns in a tropical monsoon climate. Geosciences/University of Arizona.
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