The landslide took place on Friday afternoon in Hpakant, Kachin State, and the war-torn area that is the epicenter of Myanmar’s secretive billion dollar jade industry.
“The rescue process has now started and we are searching for dead bodies but we can’t tell the numbers yet,” Nilar Myint, an official from Hpakant Administrative Office, told AFP.
The same area was hit by a massive landslide last month that killed more than 100. Locals say dozens more have died throughout the year in smaller accidents.
Those killed are mainly itinerant workers who scratch a living picking through the piles of waste left by large-scale industrial mining firms in the hope of stumbling across a previously missed hunk of jade that will deliver them from poverty.
Myanmar is the source of virtually all of the world’s finest jadeite, a near-translucent green stone that is enormously prized in neighboring China, where it is known as the “stone of heaven”.
The Hpakant landscape has been turned into a moonscape of environmental destruction as firms use ever-larger diggers to claw the precious stone from the ground.
But while mining firms — many linked to the junta-era military elite — are thought to be raking in huge sums, local people complain they are shut out from the bounty.