The bodies of at least 100 jade miners were pulled from the mud after a landslide in northern Myanmar on Thursday, in one of the worst ever accidents to hit the perilous industry.
Scores die each year while working in the country’s lucrative but poorly regulated jade industry, which uses low-paid migrant workers to scrape out a gem highly coveted in China.
The disaster struck after an early bout of heavy rainfall close to the Chinese border in Kachin state, the Myanmar Fire Services Department said in a Facebook post.
“The miners were smothered by a wave of mud,” the statement said. “A total of 113 bodies have been found so far.”
They had apparently defied a warning not to work the treacherous open mines during the rains, local police told AFP.
Rescuers worked all morning to retrieve the bodies from a mud lake, pulling them to the surface and using tyres as makeshift rafts.
Police told AFP that 99 bodies were found by noon, with another 20 injured.
They said search and rescue efforts had been suspended because of more heavy rains.
The workers were scavenging for the gemstones on the sharp mountainous terrain in Hpakant township, where furrows from earlier digs had already loosened the earth.