Eleven Bodies Uncovered After Deadly Hpakant Landslide

Thirty more people remain missing in the jade-rich area.


Friday, July 27, 2018

Rescue workers on Thursday unearthed the bodies of 11 victims of a landslide at a jade mining site in Hpakant Township, Kachin State.

At least 40 people were reported missing after the incident, which occurred on July 24 near Hpar Pyin and Mamong villages.

The victims were from three different jade mining blocks, according to U Nawng Latt, chairman of Greenland Environmental Conservation. He added that 30 people remain unaccounted for.

According to locals, the slope where the landslide occurred is particularly steep, making it difficult for rescue workers to undertake a mission to locate missing people and bodies under the mud.

Landslides are common in jade-rich Hpakant, with people pointing to overzealous mining and the use of explosives to access jade buried within the mountains. To reduce the toll of dead and injured, the government must enforce safety measures, U Nawng Latt said.

“If the government takes strong action against jade extraction companies that break rules and regulations, then companies will follow these rules and regulations,” he explained, adding that there are more than 300 jade mining blocks in Hpakant.

One of the problems, U Nawng Latt said, stems from the fact that Myanmar Army officials are often involved in the leadership of the jade companies, and executive bodies in Hpakant typically include a military commander, leading to a conflict of interest.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi leads a democratic government, but the Ministry of Home Affairs runs under the control of the military. They can manipulate the laws however they want,” he said, referring to a provision under Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution that exempts the military—and the ministries under its command—from control by a civilian government.