On July 2, 2020 a deadly landslide descended on a jade mine in northern Myanmar.
According to first countings, at least 162 people were buried to death and 54 others gravely injured.
The mine collapse took place early on Thursday in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state after the region was hit by torrential rains.
The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud. By 7:15 pm, 162 bodies were found, and 54 injured people were sent to nearby hospitals.
However, it is unknown how many people were present at the time of the natural disaster. The death number may thus increase dramatically.
‘No one could help’
Maung Khaing, a 38-year-old miner from the area, said he saw a towering pile of waste that looked on the verge of collapse and was about to take a picture when people began shouting “run, run!”
“Within a minute, all the people at the bottom [of the hill] just disappeared,” he told Reuters news agency by phone.
“I feel empty in my heart. I still have goosebumps … There were people stuck in the mud shouting for help, but no one could help them.“
Than Hlaing, a member of a local civil society group helping in the aftermath of the disaster, said those killed were informal workers scavenging the waste left by a larger mining company.
Northern Myanmar’s abundant natural resources – including jade, timber, gold and amber – have also helped finance both sides of a decades-long conflict between ethnic Kachin and the military.
Fatal landslides are common in the poorly regulated mines of Hpakant, the victims often from impoverished communities who risk their lives hunting the translucent green gemstone.
Meanwhile, official statement qualifies the present disaster at a Burma jade mine as one of the worst-ever accidents to hit the treacherous industry. [Facebook / Myanmar Fire Services Department, Al Jazeera]