Burmese mahouts presumed dead after landslide in Chiang Mai

Burmese mahouts presumed dead after landslide in Chiang Mai

Two teenage Burmese mahouts who were working at an elephant camp in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, have been missing for five days and are now presumed dead after a landslide at the camp.

The pair, Maung Oo, 15, and Dawdaw, 16, were asleep alongside three other workers in a wooden hut during a sustained rainstorm at around 10pm last Friday when the structure was knocked over and swept away in the runoff from the landslide.

“All the earth came sliding down the hillside. The mahouts were caught off-guard as they were asleep. Four of them got swept away,” said Pha Moe Ei, the elephant camp’s mahout in-charge.

“Two of them survived but the other two are still missing. One of the survivors managed to grab hold of a tree root which saved his life.”

He said another worker survived by clinging on to a bamboo plant.

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The two missing youngsters had gone to northern Thailand were migrant workers from Hpruso Township in Karenni State, and had been working at the elephant camp for about a year. The camp’s owner, Nai Lun Htaw, said that some elephants were injured in the disaster. He pledged to give the families of the deceased 50,000 baht (US$1,400) each for the death of their loved ones, but rued that he did not have the money at the moment due to losses he was suffering from the landslide.

“There is nothing we can do now. All has been lost. I am speechless,” the camp owner told DVB. “We could not find the two lads, and I am so sorry for them.”

Read more stories about elephants, both wild and in captivity, HERE

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