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Rescuers are searching for more than 20 miners buried by a landslide at a jade mine in remote war-torn northern Burma that killed at least nine people, state media reported on Wednesday.
The latest fatal accident to hit the country’s secretive gems industry occurred when a huge mound of loose earth that miners were combing through beside the mine in Hpakant, Kachin State, partially collapsed in the early hours of Monday.
Authorities were alerted to the incident after two injured men were taken to the local hospital, according to the Myanma Alin newspaper.
“There were 30 people buried,” the report said, adding that five bodies were discovered on Monday morning and a further four were found later that day.
It said the search was ongoing without giving further details.
Hpakant is a magnet for prospectors who pick through rubble on perilous slopes left by mining firms in the hope of unearthing overlooked lumps of jade.
Accidents and landslides at the mines are commonplace.
In January, four people were killed in a landslide after heavy rains loosened a heap of debris next to a jade mine in the area.
Up to 90 percent of the world’s jadeite — the most sought-after type of jade — is mined in Hpakant, feeding a vast appetite for the green stone in Asia and particularly China, where it is believed to ward off evil spirits and improve health.
The famously murky trade remains highly lucrative, although the exact revenues from sales of the precious stone remain cloaked in secrecy, despite reforms by a quasi-civilian government aimed at opening up the resource-rich nation.
Activities in the area have been disrupted in recent months by unrest between government troops and local ethnic minority rebels.
Now watch DVB Video: Hpakant’s jade curse