(Reuters) – At least 36 people were feared dead at a jade mine in northern Myanmar after being swept into a lake by a huge landslide, a rescue worker and local journalist said on Monday.
The accident happened Sunday in the remote town of Hpakant, the centre of Myanmar’s secretive jade industry, where scavengers risk their lives picking through unstable earth and rubble excavated by mining companies, searching for small pieces of the semi-precious stone.
More than 100 rescue workers were looking for survivors, a member of the rescue team said by phone, declining to be identified due to safety concerns. Eight people were injured and taken to hospital on Sunday.
“We haven’t found a body yet, but we are still searching,” he said.
Citing witnesses, Tar Lin Maung, a local journalist said the waste heap that collapsed on Sunday was about 150 metres (492 ft) high.
“There is no chance that they would survive in this muddy lake,” Tar Lin Maung said.
Accidents are common in poorly regulated mines of Hpakant, which has seen some of Asia’s worst mining disasters, including a landslide in 2020 that killed at least 170 people.
Myanmar produces about 90% of the world’s jade, large quantities of which are sold in China. The industry is worth billions of dollars each year to Myanmar’s ruling military and business allies, according to activists.
(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Editing by Martin Petty)