Mine Wall Collapse Kills 12

Miners search for jade stones at a mine dump in a Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state. Photo: Thaung Nyunt
Miners search for jade stones at a mine dump in a Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state. Photo: Thaung Nyunt

A second mine collapse this month has killed 12 and injured 11 in Kachin state’s Hpakant township on Monday night with relief efforts taking place yesterday. It is reported up to 50 people were in the deserted mine when a wall collapsed.
The first mine incident occurred on 8 May killing 13.
The company, Yadanar Star, reportedly ceased its mining operations on 22 May. Soon after, hopeful prospectors moved in to search for undiscovered gems.
Daw Nilar Myint, head of Hpakant’s General Administrative Department told The Global New Light of Myanmar that rescue efforts ceased yesterday at around 4:30pm and were said to begin again this morning, she also confirmed the death toll.
“Some managed to escape unharmed as they saw the wall slowly come down,” said Daw Nilar Myint.
It was originally reported to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MoSWRR) as a landslide from dumped soil, but later reconfirmed by the Ministry’s Relief Department (RD), under the MoSWRR, that it was the collapse of a mine wall and not from dumped soil.
Director of the MoSWRR’s RD, Dr. Min Thein confirmed that the wall collapse occurred at 9:03pm Monday evening and that initial reports claimed to have been a landslide from dumped soil. The department has donated MMK100,000 (US$85) for recovery efforts.
The recent depression from Cyclone Roanu that moved over the state is said to be a leading factor. Kachin also experienced severe weather last month.
Deputy Director of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Hla Tun says that from Monday to Tuesday Kachin has seen rainfall, but not widespread heavy falls, today the state is to experience similar weather.
In November last year 116 people were killed when a landslide from a mound of dumped soil buried a camp in the same area. Hundreds were reported missing; the number of those living in the camp was unknown.
The newly appointed government has plans under it’s “100-day plan” to prevent similar disasters like the November 2015 event.
“This year, height restrictions have been placed on dumping soil, changing our previous practice so as to ensure landslides do not occur,” Daw Nilar Myint, told The Global New Light of Myammar on 18 May.
It was reported on 12 May that Union Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation U Ohn Win said that no more jade mining blocks will be allowed and restrictions will be placed in Hpakant and Lonekhin mining blocks.
Yet, attempts to protect people from danger continue.
Mining began in Hpakant during the 90’s when the State Law and Order Restoration Council started handing out commissions, according to a Global Witness Report from December 2015. The same report estimated that Myanmar’s jade mining operations were worth an estimated US$31 billion in 2014.—Additional Reporting Aye Min Soe

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