Six migrant workers were killed and another injured by a collapsing slag heap on Thursday as they scavenged jade remnants in a mine in Hpakant township in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, a local official said.
“The landslide occurred at around 3 p.m. in the mining area of the Jade Land Company,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Myo Thura Naung of the Kachin State Police said in a statement Thursday.
“Six were killed, and one was injured,” he said.
Myanmar’s Hpakant region, where up to 90 percent of the world’s jadeite is mined, has seen a significant number of deaths over the past few years from a string of deadly landslides where slag heaps have collapsed on scavengers, who search amid dangerous mountains of rubble and tailings in jade mines for pieces of the valuable gemstone left behind in mining operations.
In November 2015, at least 115 migrant miners died when a 200-foot mountain of dirt and mine wste collapsed on a makeshift settlement of miners’ huts.
Hpakant, which lies about 400 miles (640 kilometers) north of Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, is the center of the country’s jade mining industry and produces some of the highest-quality jade in the world.
Much of the gem is exported or smuggled to neighboring China, where demand for the precious stone is high.
Reported by Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Richard Finney.