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Myanmar

Myanmar military accused of failing to prevent mine disaster

Activists say attempts to improve regulation of the mining industry will fail while the army remains all-powerful

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Myanmar military accused of failing to prevent mine disaster

Villagers look over the site of a deadly landslide at Wai Khar jade mine in Kachin state on July 4. (Photo: AFP)

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More than two months have passed since a deadly landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state, the worst tragedy in the notorious billion-dollar jade mining industry.

Some 31 young Christians including three Catholics were among the more than 200 miners who died on July 2 at Wai Khar jade mine in Hpakant township, while most victims were ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, according to sources.

On Sept. 3, Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) released a report which places blame on the military for failing to enforce safety regulations that could have prevented the deadly landslide.

The mine, like the rest of the Hpakant jade mining area, is under tight control of the Tatmadaw, which is tasked with securing the mines. Despite clear signs of instability, the Tatmadaw did nothing to prevent companies from large-scale digging at the mine until its rainy season closure on June 25 and did not cordon off the mine to scavengers, according to the report.

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