by Staff Writers
Yangon (AFP) Feb 11, 2017
A landslide in northern Myanmar's jade mining region has killed 9 people, a local official said Saturday, the latest fatal incident to strike the shadowy billion-dollar industry.
The men were believed to be searching for jade in Kachin state when a wall of unstable earth collapsed late Thursday night.
Five bodies were found buried beneath the rubble on Thursday and three more were found on Friday, said Kyaw Swar Aung, the administrator of Hpakant -- the heart of Myanmar's jade-producing region.
Rescuers also found two injured men, but one was pronounced dead at the hospital, he added.
"The total number of dead bodies found was nine. Their funerals are today," he told AFP.
Myanmar is the chief source of the world's finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is highly prized in China.
But the secretive trade is poorly regulated and enormously dangerous.
The area around Hpakant has suffered a string of deadly landslides in recent years, with a major incident in November 2015 leaving more than 100 dead.
Numerous other smaller accidents have left scores more dead or injured.
The victims are usually impoverished locals or itinerant workers scouring the area for pieces of of jade left behind by the industrial diggers that have turned the region into a moonscape of environmental destruction.
While the mining firms -- many linked to the junta-era military elite -- are thought to be raking in huge sums, local people say they are shut off from the bounty.
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