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162 Miners Killed In Hpakant Landslide

July 3, rescue workers at Gwi Hka mine, Hpakant in Kachin State, northern Burma. Photo: KSPP/Hpakant

At least 162 miners at the Hpakant jade mine in Burma’s Kachin State died after the side of a hill collapsed into a pit, creating a giant wave of water that swept them away.

“When the landslide occurred, it made a massive water wave that was like a tsunami and it pulled many people into the mud,” Duwa Mangshang Zung Ying told KNG. The jade companies dug out a tall hill, and it’s where the landslide occurred, he says.

Duwa Mangshang Zung Ying says the accident that happened this Thursday (July 2) at 8 a.m. recorded the highest number of fatalities this year. Some of the workers killed were women.

Fifty-four people who survived the accident are being treated at Gwi Hka and Hpakant public hospitals.

Tint Soe, who is a NLD parliamentarian for Hpakant Township, told KNG that so many people perished during the landslide there isn’t enough space for all their bodies. He urged relatives and friends of the deceased to collect the remains of their loved ones. “We’ve put some in the graveyard and in other buildings,” Tint Soe says.

With many more bodies retrieved from the mining pit today, he says they don’t have enough room and will have to start cremating them if no-one comes to collect them. Residents say at least 200 miners could have been killed during the landslide.

During the rainy season, landslides occur frequently in the Hpakant jade mine. The government ordered the mine closed from July 1 to September 30 but many freelance miners ignored it.

The Hpakant jade mine is the largest in the world. Revenues generated from jade mining in Burma is estimated at more than $30 billion a year.

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