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New landslide hits Myanmar’s jade mine in Hpakant, dozens feared missing

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A new landslide hit jade mining region in Hpakant, Myanmar on December 25, 2015, leaving, according to witnesses, as many as 50 people missing.

Nilar Mying, an official from Hpakant Administrative Office, said for AFP that the rescue process has started. "We are searching for dead bodies but we can't tell the numbers yet."

The same area was hit by a massive landslide on November 21, 2015, leaving more than 100 people missing. Many of those killed were people who made their living scavenging on or near the waste dumps left by large-scale industrial mining firms. This is a "remote region, with little phone coverage and poor roads making it difficult to obtain precise and swift data after such incidents," AFP explained.

Advocacy group Global Witness said the value of jade produced in 2014 alone was $31bn (£21bn), the equivalent of nearly half of Myanmar's GDP, yet hardly any of the money was reaching ordinary people or state coffers, BBC said.

According to Myanmar's Ministry of Mines, about 800 jade mining firms operate around Hpakant, but activity is dominated by about ten firms, mostly Chinese-led ventures. 

Much of the jade mined in Hpakant is believed to be smuggled to neighbouring China, Reuters writes, "where the green stone is highly prized and is widely believed to bring wealth and longevity."

Featured image: ©2010 Google

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