Fifteen people have been confirmed dead after a landslide destroyed a mine in Burma’s northern Kachin state, three kilometres from the border with China.
The victims were all Chinese migrant labourers. Two people are still missing, while five were taken to hospital in China’s border town of Tengchong after the incident on Monday afternoon, Xinhua news reported.
Chinese rescue teams are now reportedly at the mine searching for survivors. It is not clear how many workers were in the mine when the landslide occurred.
In July last year torrential rain triggered a landslide close to Kachin state’s Phakant town, killing 24 and leaving 1,300 homeless. Dozens of houses built on an old jade mine dump were swept away.
Thousands of Chinese work across the border in Burma, often in areas controlled by armed ethnic groups. The site of the mine is in territory belonging to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), which also plays a hand in much of the cross-border trade from China’s southern Yunnan province into Kachin state.
But it is rich Chinese businessmen that own many of the jade and metal mines in the region, which in turn support the thousands of Chinese migrant workers based close to the border. More than two million Chinese are now believed to be living in Burma, focused mainly in the northern Kachin and Shan states.