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Locals flee extreme floods in Hpakant

Most neighbourhoods in Hpakant, a jade-mining town in Burma’s northern Kachin State, have been evacuated following days of heavy rain.

All quarters except for those at high altitudes were flooded by overflow from the Uru River over the past week. The most hard-hit areas are Ayemyatharyar, Mashikahtaung, Myoma and Ngetpyawdaw, according to locals affiliated with a community organisation called Parami.

On Monday, locals said that water levels had lessened to some degree but that transportation is still difficult as most roads are still underwater.

Hpakant, an area rich with coveted jade stones, has seen a recent influx of illegal, small-scale mining operations since the breakdown of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army. The conflict brought commercial operations to a stop, leading many of the remote state’s poor population to rush in and capitalise on the gems.  

Burma’s Ministry of Mining announced earlier this year that commercial mining operations will resume in September, however.  

Last week, Malaysia’s UMW Group announced it had secured contracts worth US$63 million to supply more than 60 units of Komatsu equipment – presumably excavators, caterpillars and bulldozers – to jade mining firms in the township.



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