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Worker dead, many missing in Myanmar after landslide hits jade mine

Worker dead, many missing in Myanmar after landslide hits jade mine
Crews search for missing miners at a jade mine in Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar, on Wednesday. Photo by Myanmar Fire Services Department via EPA-EFE

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- At least one person has died and more than 80 others are missing after a landslide on Wednesday at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, which has one of the richest jade deposits in the world.

Authorities said the miners were working at the mine in the overnight hours when the slide struck a couple hours before dawn. The mine is located in Hpakant in Myanmar's northern Kachin state.

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The landslide buried more than 100 people. A local administrator said the landslide trapped jade scavengers and vendors along with the miners.

"The landslide left over 80 people missing and the rescue operation is being carried out," U Kyaw Min, an official of a village administration office, said, according to Xinhua News.

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"It was near a lake to flush out gold and valuable stones in the rainy season," a Hpakant resident told The Irrawaddy. "People living near the mound were buried."

Many in the Hpakant area make their living from the jade industry, despite the dangers of constant landslides. A landslide in July 2020 killed 174 people and injured dozens.

Hpakant is a rugged and remote area of Kachin state located about 600 miles north of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city. Although it has some of world's richest jade deposits, mining in the area has been officially closed since the military junta took over the government in February. Some companies in the area have been mining illegally.

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Former Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had mounted efforts to improve regulations for the jade mining industry before she was removed from power on Feb. 1.

The jade mines are also a source of revenue for the ethnic Kachin Independence Army.

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