Myanmar Red Cross supports Kachin landslide rescue operation

Published: 23 November 2015 12:32 CET

By Mandy George, IFRC

For the past three days the Myanmar Red Cross Society has been supporting local authorities and the military to retrieve bodies of people killed in the deadly landslide which occurred in Hpakant, a jade mining community in Myanmar's northern Kachin state. Most of the victims of the landslide, which happened  around 3am on 21 November, were buried beneath a huge heap of waste material that had been deposited by local mines on a mountainside.  

When news of the landslide emerged, over 30 Red Cross volunteers from Phakant Township in the area of Lon Khin, deployed to the site of the disaster and have since helped to retrieve 115 bodies which have been transferred to a local hospital.

Many people remain missing and efforts to retrieve more bodies are being hindered due to the depth of the landslide and the dangers involved in recovery efforts. Most of the dead are thought to be migrant workers who made a living from scavenging for jade deposits in the discarded waste.

Over 80 homes were also destroyed and the Myanmar Red Cross Society has stepped in to support survivors of the disaster by providing cash grants of 100,000 MMK ($77 US dollars) to 69 households who lost family members.

“Our volunteers have been on the scene of the disaster from day one, supporting the authorities,” said U Maung Maung Khin, director of disaster management for the National Society. “We have spoken to the affected families to see how we can best support their needs. Given the financial burden that funerals will cause, as well as the loss of many families’ breadwinners, we will be supporting the worst affected households with cash grants. We also have emergency relief items on hand to distribute if needed over the coming days.”