August 19, 2016


No bodies found under soil of Hpakant landslide yet

Rescuers searching for under dumped soil of the landslide in Hpakant. Photo: MNA
Rescuers searching for under dumped soil of the landslide in Hpakant. Photo: MNA

FOLLOWING second-day rescue efforts, authorities said yesterday that no bodies were found under the dumped soil of the landslide which occurred last Friday in Hpakant.
Until searching ended for the second day yesterday, authorities and volunteers did not find any bodies under the soil.
“We are investigating three miners who are reportedly missing since the landslide happened,” said U Tin Swe Myint, the head of the Hpakant Township Administration Office to The Global New Light of Myanmar over the phone.
The three miners are Zaw Htwe, 21, Maung Htwe, 21 and Thein Zaw, 28, from Seikmu Village in Hpakant Township.
With the use of backhoes, members of the Tatmadaw, firemen, local authorities and volunteers a rescue effort has been carried out on site. Authorities refuted media reports on the death toll of a landslide in Hpakant around 5pm on Friday, saying they were informed that just three people were missing.
After the incident, relatives of the three missing people informed the local authorities that their loved ones had not yet returned home since the accident.
“The accident happened at a time when migrant workers were returning home. There were no squatter huts in the area. This mound of dump soil is not as high and big as that of the previous accident. So it is impossible that 40 or 50 migrant workers might be dead ,” he added.
Shortcomings in the following  of safety regulations by both mining companies and migrant squatters pose great challenges for local authorities in preventing future landslides around jade mines in Kachin State.
To prevent landslides, local authorities have suggested that migrant miners squatting in at-risk areas relocate to safer areas and that mining companies dump their waste soil in accordance with technical safety rules.
When miners began using heavy machinery to extract jade from mines in Myanmar in 2005, migrant workers across the country flowed into the area to scavenge small jade stones from discarded soil.
There are currently around 200,000 squatters in Hpakant Township.
Following the deadly landslides last month, the authorities relocated 108 migrant miners living in at-risk areas to safety sites about 3,000 feet away from the nearest mounds of dump soil.
According to data collected up to 30 November 2015, 627 mining companies have been allowed to mine on 7,714 plots, while another 231 companies are mining through a win-win business system on 311 plots. Mining constitutes a total area of more than 22,558 acres in the township.
As of 2000, the government has practiced a production-sharing system with mining companies, collecting 25 percent of the incomes from the sales, apart from tax.


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