Search for miners called off

Excavators at the Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar, on Tuesday, during a search for bodies buried after a landslide. Rescue workers have recovered 113 bodies but some 100 people remain missing.
Excavators at the Hpakant jade mine in Kachin state, Myanmar, on Tuesday, during a search for bodies buried after a landslide. Rescue workers have recovered 113 bodies but some 100 people remain missing.PHOTO: REUTERS

HPAKANT (Myanmar) • The search for some 100 bodies buried under thick mud after a deadly landslide at a jade mine in Myanmar has been called off.

Police officer Naing Win in Hpakant, in the country's remote northern mountains, said search operations ended yesterday morning, the Associated Press reported.

The landslide was caused by a gigantic slag heap of debris excavated from mines, which subsided in the early hours of last Saturday and slid over the makeshift settlement at its foot, burying miners as they slept.

The dump site is operated by Triple One Jade Mining Company, but several firms had used it for soil removed from mines.

Rescue workers have recovered 113 bodies but some 100 people remain missing.

Triple One dump site manager U Soe told Reuters the company was not responsible for the deaths, and that workers voluntarily chose to stay beneath the mountain of debris.

"It's not the company's fault," Mr U Soe said. "Migrant miners come and stay around the dump site because it is near and easy to find raw jade stones. If they stay here, they don't need to rent a place."

He added that a similar accident in 2010 killed between 50 and 60 workers at another site run by the firm, underlining the lucrative industry's lax safety rules.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Search for miners called off'. Print Edition | Subscribe