50 mine foragers feared dead in Myanmar landslide

Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar. © Soe Zeya Tun
About 50 migrant workers combing soil discarded by jade mines are believed to have been killed by a landslide in north Myanman, in an area where over 120 people died in a similar incident a month ago.

"We heard about 50 people were buried in the collapsed dump and four or five bodies were found this morning," Sai Lon, who works at a jade mining company in the area, told Reuters on Saturday.

The landslide happened near the same Hpa-kant jade mining area in Kachin State on Friday evening, Xinhua reported local police as saying. The 50 miners were trapped under the mud and are presumed dead.

"The rescue process has now started and we are searching for dead bodies but we can't tell the numbers yet," Nilar Myint, an official from Hpakant Administrative Office, told AFP.

Hpa-kant is prone to landslides and has experienced seven this year alone. After the deadly incident last month, the authorities moved 108 migrant workers employed in the mining operations to other areas.

The area has been a attracting migrant workers from the region after mining companies started using heavy equipment in 2005, causing a large number of small jade stones to be discarded in the processed soil. There are an estimated 200,000 squatters involved in the trade in Hpa-kant Township.