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Search for missing in Myanmar landslide

Search for missing in Myanmar landslide

Many people are still missing after a landslide at a jade mine in Myanmar's northern Kachin state, state media said.

At least 104 bodies have now been recovered, with some estimates saying more than 100 people are still missing.

The incident happened in Hpakant on Saturday when a huge amount of mining debris collapsed, engulfing the homes of some miners.

It is unclear what triggered the landslide in the mountainous region.

Kachin produces some of the best jade in the world.

Many of the dead were people who made their living scavenging on or near the waste dumps, searching through the debris in the hope of finding fragments of jade to sell.

Rescuers, including the military, are using backhoes to clear the soil and look for survivors.

Communications with this part of Kachin State are poor and details are hard to confirm. Foreigners are not allowed in the area.

Authorities said this site and others had previously been designated at risk of landslides and notices had been issued to small-scale miners to not reside there, said state-owned The Global New Light of Myanmar.

"We have issued orders and warned the people not to build makeshift huts near mountains of dump soil and not to stay there," an unnamed official from the Hpakant Township General Administration Department was cited as saying.

In a report in October, advocacy group Global Witness said that the value of jade produced in 2014 alone was $31bn (£20.4bn) - the equivalent of nearly half the country's GDP - yet hardly any of the money is reaching ordinary people or state coffers.

Local people in mining areas accuse the mining industry of a series of abuses, including poor on-site health and safety and frequent land confiscations.

Many jade mining areas have been turned into a moon-like areas of environmental destruction as huge diggers churn the earth in search of the translucent green stones.

Last modified on Monday, 23 November 2015 13:22