Rescue efforts were underway in the southern Asian state of Myanmar following a deadly landslide at a jade mine in the northern state of Kachin late last week.
Officials confirmed on Thursday afternoon that at least 162 people were killed in the landslide, which occurred early Thursday, local time, in the gem-rich area of Hpakant, and dozens of others were sent to a hospital with injuries, according to the Myanmar Fire Services Department's Facebook page. By Friday morning, local time, the death toll had risen to 166 people. This made the disaster the country's worst known mining accident.
As of Monday afternoon, local time, it is reported that 174 people have been killed and another 20 are still missing due to the mine collapse. The local government has decided to cease rescue operations due to increasing risk caused by complicated geological conditions and continuous rainfall, reported Global Times.
In this photo released from Myanmar Fire Service Department, rescuers carry a recovered body of a victim in a landslide from a jade mining area in Hpakant, Kachin state, northern Myanmar Thursday, July 2, 2020. Myanmar government says a landslide at a jade mine has killed dozens of people. (Myanmar Fire Service Department via AP)
Recent heavy rains that occurred in Myanmar are believed to have been a trigger for the landslide that, according to the country's fire service, left jade miners "smothered by a wave of mud."
The persistent heavy rainfall, combined with the terrain, has presented major difficulties in rescue operations.
According to Reuters, a pile of mine waste collapsed into a nearby lake, which caused mud and water to flow towards the mine workers.
A witness reported that the pile of waste looked precarious, on the verge of collapse, and heard people yelling "run, run!" when he went to take a picture.
A local official with the information ministry, Tar Lin Maung, told Reuters by phone last week that he expected the death toll to rise.
The Red Cross of Myanmar sent volunteers to help with the continued search and rescue efforts.
In the mountains of Myanmar, even away from the Bay of Bengal, heavy rain triggering landslides is a common occurrence. Heavy downpours, in a short time, loosen the land and make it less sturdy. In hilly terrain, this can result in landslides.
Just last year, a fatal landslide occurred in the same region and left 50 mine workers dead.
Some of the same rain and moisture that likely contributed to Thursday's landslide has been to blame for the flooding taking place across southern China in recent weeks.
The wet weather looks to persist across the region in the coming days.
Rounds of heavy rain and downpours are likely to impact northern Myanmar through at least the early week, said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.
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