YANGON—A recent landslide in the Hpakant jade mine region of Kachin State killed at least 172 prospectors, injured more than 50 and left more than two dozen people missing. According to the Kachin State government, there were 19 landslides in Hpakant and Lone Kin in 2019, resulting in 94 deaths. However, the latest disaster was the deadliest the area has seen for five years.
Most of the victims were freelance miners, who scavenge for pieces of jade at the foot of giant mounds of discarded earth excavated using heavy machinery by big mining companies run by the military, its cronies and ethnic armed groups. When the rains come, the mounds become unstable and deadly landslides are frequent.