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10 dead as mudslides hit Karenni mining town

A women is pulled from the mudslide in Mawchi on Sunday, 11 October 2015. (PHOTO supplied to DVB)

At least 10 people are dead and eight missing in the town of Mawchi in Karenni State’s Hpasaung Township after heavy rains triggered a series of mudslides on Sunday afternoon.

According to local sources in Mawchi, several homes were destroyed in the devastation, leaving locals without food, shelter or clothing.

Mawchi is home to tin and tungsten mining operations, and in the 1930s, under British administration, was the most important source of tungsten in the world.

Australian firm Eumeralla Resources last year confirmed a 70/30 contract with local partner Myanmar Energy Resources Group to explore a 400 km² area in Karenni State. It is at present unclear whether the firm has yet carried out any exploration work or mining in the Mawchi area.

In 2012, a Karenni women’s group called for a halt to the expansion of tin mines in Mawchi, calling the enterprise an “environmental disaster”. However, nothing at this stage points towards mining as a cause of yesterday’s mudslides.