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162 killed in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

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Myanmar jade mine landslide

Yangon, July 3 : At least 162 bodies have been found after a landslide at a jade mining site in northern Myanmar, officials said.

Rescue work has continued all day for people still missing at the site in the Hpakant area of Kachin state, the BBC reported.

A wave of mud and rock triggered by heavy rain engulfed those collecting stones, the fire service said.

Myanmar is the world’s biggest source of jade but its mines have seen numerous accidents, many involving people who scavenge for stones.

The country’s fire service department said in a Facebook post (in Burmese): “The jade miners were smothered by a wave of mud, which hit after heavy rainfall.”

It said that by 19.15 local time (12.45 GMT) “162 bodies were found and 54 injured people were taken [to hospital]”. No figure was given for the number of people still missing.

Kachin state’s minister of social affairs, Dashi La Seng, told BBC Burmese: “All of a sudden… huge amounts of mud together with rainwater ran into the pit. It was like a tsunami.”

Heavy rain continued all day during the rescue work.

Police said some people had defied a warning issued on Wednesday not to work in the area after the rainfall, although the advice may also have saved many lives.

Video of the incident shows a massive landslide pouring into a large flooded pit or lake.

Maung Khaing, a 38-year-old miner, told Reuters he saw a towering pile of waste close to collapse and people were shouting “run, run”.

He said: “Within a minute, all the people at the bottom [of the hill] just disappeared. I feel empty in my heart… There were people stuck in the mud shouting for help but no-one could help them.”

Hundreds of people gather at mines to sift through rubble discarded from lorries, hoping to find jade stones.

The rubble creates large slopes that can be dangerous in an area denuded of trees and resembling a moonscape.

More than 100 people died last year alone at mining sites.

Myanmar’s jade trade is reported to be worth more than $30bn (?24bn) a year. Hpakant is the site of the world’s biggest jade mine.

“Searching for precious stones is traditionally the only job for the people in this area. They have no other choice of livelihood,” local resident Shwe Thein told the BBC.

“They will mine by any means whether they have an official permit or not. Although the mudslides keep happening, many organisations, including armed groups, involved in jade mining are saying the situation here is good. So it’s difficult for the outside world to know the real situation here.”

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says a new gemstone mining law was passed last year, but critics say the government has too few inspectors with only limited authority to stop illegal practices.

He says campaigners have accused the military, drug dealers, insurgent groups and Chinese business interests of controlling the jade trade and preventing a safer and more sustainable exploitation of the valuable gemstone.

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Maharashtra scales new high with 400-plus Covid deaths, cases above 11K

The state registered 413 Covid deaths – surpassing the 390 fatalities reported on August 9, along with 11,813 new cases.

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Coronavirus Isolation ward

Maharashtra’s daily Covid-19 death toll crossed the 400 mark on Thursday while new cases again shot above the 11,000 mark, health officials said.

The state registered 413 Covid deaths – surpassing the 390 fatalities reported on August 9, along with 11,813 new cases.

The state death toll has now shot up to 19,063, while the total number of cases went up to 560,126 – both highest in the country.

According to Thursday’s figures, there was one death roughly every 3 minutes and 492 new cases every hour.

The state recovery rate dropped from 69.64 per cent to 69.08 per cent on Thursday, while the mortality rate stood stable at 3.04 per cent.

Meanwhile, a total of 9,115 recovered patients returned home, taking the total number of discharged patients to 390,958 – considerably higher than the 149,798 active cases currently.

Of the fresh fatalities, Pune again topped with 92 deaths, followed by 65 fatalities in Thane and 48 in Mumbai.

There were also 36 deaths in Kolhapur, 20 in Satara, 15 each in Raigad, Nashik, Jalgaon, and Nagpur, 12 in Palghar, 11 in Latur, 10 in Sangli, nine in Osmanabad, eight in Ahmednagar, six in Solapur, five in Dhule, four in Nanded, threee each in Parbhani and Beed, 2 each in Ratnagiri, Jalna, Hingoli, Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal, Buldhana, and Gondiya, and one each in Nandurbar, Sindhudurg, Aurangabad, Washim and Chandrapur.

Mumbai’s toll has now increased to 6,991 and the number of cases increased by 1,200 to 127,556.

The MMR (Thane division) has seen the toll shooting up by the highest – 140 – to reach 11,201 deaths, while fresh 3,395 new cases took its total to 278,969.

Pune district cases have reached 122,020 with the death toll increasing to 2,957, while Thane district has 109,703 cases with 3,190 fatalities.

With 118 more fatalities, the Pune division’s death toll reached 3,774 and the case tally zoomed up with 3,034 new cases to 141,727.

Nashik division has recorded 1,597 fatalities and 56,891 cases, followed by Aurangabad division with 730 deaths and 22,569 cases, Kolhapur division with 583 fatalities and 20,419 cases, Latur division with 435 fatalities and 13,591 cases, Akola division with 351 fatalities and 11,327 cases, and Nagpur division with 334 deaths and 14,047 cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased to 10,25,660, while those in institutional quarantine increased to 36,450.

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Disaster

5.5-magnitude earthquake rattles northern Philippines

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Earthquake

MANILA, Aug. 13 : An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 shook Batanes province in the northern Philippines on Thursday, the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) said.

The institute said the quake, which struck at 6:32 a.m. local time, hit at a depth of 14 kilometers, about 49 kilometers southwest of Sabtang town.

The institute said the quake, which was tectonic in origin, will trigger aftershocks but will not cause damage.

The Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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Disaster

5.3-magnitude quake hits 62 km SW of Surab, Pakistan: USGS

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Earthquake Strong

NEW YORK, Aug. 12 : An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 jolted 62 km southwest of Surab, Pakistan at 22:40:45 GMT on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter, with a depth of 10.96 km, was initially determined to be at 27.9781 degrees north latitude and 65.9996 degrees east longitude.

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