POST TIME: 25 November, 2015 00:00 00 AM
Grim search for bodies after Myanmar mine disaster

Grim search for bodies after Myanmar mine disaster

AFP, YANGON: Search teams Tuesday said they had given up hope of finding survivors from a landslide in north Myanmar's jade mining heartland as they scoured for bodies from a disaster that left more than 100 dead.
It is one of the deadliest incidents to hit Hpakant in war-torn Kachin state, the hub of a billion-dollar jade trade that enriches a shadowy elite while destroying the local environment and social structure.
Scores of mainly itinerant prospectors were buried as they slept in makeshift tents when a towering mound of waste earth dumped by mining firms suddenly collapsed early Saturday morning.
Recovery teams including the army, police and local community organisations have pulled 113 bodies from the rubble. Only one man was found alive on Saturday, but died soon after of his injuries. Dashi Naw Lawn of the Kachin Network Development Foundation, which is helping the search efforts, said no further survivors were expected.
"We are seeing only dead people," he told AFP, adding that recovery operations continued at the site Tuesday with potentially dozens of people still missing.
Authorities could not confirm the number of people who were searching for jade at the time of the landslide.
But the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar Tuesday quoted local officials as estimating another 30 bodies could still be buried.
It said the area had been designated "high risk" by authorities, who now plan to relocate a further 70 miner huts that have been built in the shadow of other waste mountains.
- 'Stone of heaven' -
Myanmar is the world's primary source of the finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is highly sought after in neighbouring China, where demand is surging as incomes rise.