The tragic death toll occurred on Thursday in the northern town of Hpakant
collapsed in heavy monsoon rains, sending a deluge of smothering mud
who were scouring the land for fragments of jade.
Dozens of jade miners bodies were buried Friday 2nd July in a mass grave after a landslide killed over 170, most of them migrant workers seeking their fortune in treacherous open- cast mines near the China border.
It was the worst accident in memory to befall Myanmar’s notoriously dangerous jade mines.
“The search and rescue missions continued … 172 bodies were found by midday,” the Myanmar Fire Services Department said in a Facebook post, raising the overnight toll by 10.
They join many killed each year in Hpakant, an area close to the Chinese border in Kachin state, where billions of dollars of the precious stone is believed to be scoured each year from bare hillsides by poor migrant workers seeking to strike it rich.
Myanmar is one of the world’s biggest sources of jadeite and the industry is supercharged by demand for the green gem from neighbouring China.
Scores of miners die every year in landslides and other accidents on unstable, over-excavated mountainsides.
“Many of them (the dead) are Rakhine,” Phon Graing, a Hpakant township official said, referring to the ethnic group who live hundreds of kilometres away at the other end of the country, and who are among Myanmar’s poorest communities.
Ownership and operations of the mines are mired in secrecy, although environmental watchdog Global Witness alleges operators are linked to former junta figures, the military elite and their cronies.