3 July, 2020An accident in Hpakant, in Myanmar’s Kachin state, has claimed the lives of at least 162 mine workers, with dozens more feared dead, and injured 54.
The jade mine is located in a remote area of northern Myanmar. It is believed that the mine collapsed after heavy rainfall. Mine workers, while collecting precious stones, were swept away by a strong stream of mud and water.
Jade mining in Myanmar is often perilous due to unsafe working conditions, and landslides are common.
The flood also destroyed around the half of the village, where the families of the affected miners are staying.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:
“Occupational safety and health are of paramount importance in the mining industry, and our affiliate MWFM is constantly advocating for reforms to strengthen safety measures at worksite.”
“We wish to extend our deeply felt condolences to the families of all those victims affected by this disaster."
The union, Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM), reports that local officials warned mine workers against working during the heavy rains.
IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane says:
“The Myanmar government should ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines, and facilitate unionization at all mine sites for the workers to have a collective voice to improve health and safety.”
Thaung Nyun, MWFM president, says:
“There was a similar accident in 2015, in Hpakant. The government should thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and prevent another disaster. Both employers and the government must put people before profit.”
Photo credit: file image from landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state in 2015.