17 dead in Myanmar jade mine landslide

The bodies of jade scavengers who were killed in a landslide are covered in plastic and lined up at a hospital morgue Friday, May 4, 2018, in Hpakant, Kachine state in northern Myanmar. (AP)
Updated 04 May 2018

17 dead in Myanmar jade mine landslide

  • Myanmar is the world’s top producer of jade in trade fueled by demand from neighboring China.
  • A number of deadly landslides has struck the area around Hpakant in recent years, with one major incident in November 2015 leaving more than 100 dead.

YANGON: A landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar has killed 17 people, local authorities said Friday, the latest disaster to hit the murky multi-billion dollar industry.
Myanmar is the world’s top producer of the near-translucent green gem in trade fueled by demand from neighboring China.
But the poorly regulated industry is notorious for its links to cronies from Myanmar’s former junta and for the dangers it poses to those who scrabble across a moonscape of environmental destruction hoping to strike it rich.
The accident early Friday occurred in a mining compound near Wak Khar village in Kachin State’s Hpakant township, the epicenter of the perilous work.
“A wall of rock fell after people tried to dig for jade under it,” local administrative officer Nilar Myint told AFP.
“We have now found 17 dead bodies and we have sent nine survivors to hospital,” she added.
A second source involved in the rescue and recovery process confirmed the death toll.
A number of deadly landslides has struck the area around Hpakant in recent years, with one major incident in November 2015 leaving more than 100 dead.
Several other smaller accidents have killed or injured scores more.
The victims are often itinerant workers or impoverished local residents who see little profit from the industry and are left to scour the mining areas for pieces of jade left behind by giant industrial diggers.
The NGO Global Witness said the industry was worth some $31 billion in 2014 alone, with much of the funds not reaching state coffers.
Myanmar’s northernmost state of Kachin is rich in resources but a source of long running conflict, which intensified in 2011 after a cease-fire between ethnic insurgents and the government broke down.
Thousands of people have fled their home in recent weeks after a renewed bout of clashes, according to the United Nations.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.