Myanmar: Kachin Mine Collapse - Operation Update Report, DREF n° MDRMM014

Situation Report
Originally published
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Summary of major revisions made to emergency plan of action:

This operation update is published to formalize the no-cost extension of the operation by two months. The operation is being extended to implement the remaining activities that are planned within the operation which includes procurement and distribution of items that were delayed due to additional restrictions imposed due to the increased severity of the COVID-19 situation within the country. This was initially identified as a risk for the operation and measures had been taken to mitigate the challenges.


Description of the disaster

Hpakant area in Kachin is under large-scale precious stone operations with illegal and dangerous mining practices, where many freelance miners are working in extremely vulnerable and dangerous conditions where no labour law protection nor specific safety regulations exist. The miners are exposed to extremely fatal risks working in such condition and lack of safety precautions and procedures.

Hpakant Township, in Kachin state experienced heavy rainfall for several days and the soil was saturated due to the rainfall at the jade mining area in Wai Khwar village, Seik Mu village. This caused an erosion of land and mudslide down to the jade mine pit on 2 July 2020 (7.30am local time). The mudslide further triggered a formation of large wave of mud sweeping miners who were working in the mine pit, burying many of them under the thick layer of mud. Many of the miners were of daily-waged internal migrants from different parts of Myanmar.

The rescue efforts were initiated rapidly and were led by the Myanmar Fire Department and supported by 85 MRCS Red Cross volunteers (RCV), 10 members of state /district/Hpakant Township Red Cross committee, and other local organizations. In the evening of the disaster (2 July 2020), it was reported that a total of 164 fatalities were found and 44 people had been transferred to hospitals in Hpakant and Myitkyina. The rescue efforts were stopped due to darkness and worsening conditions.