Map of Myanmar
Map of Myanmar

YANGON - A landslide in northern Myanmar's jade mining region Tuesday killed at least 12 people and injured about 50 others, witnesses and officials said.

Volunteer rescuer Naw Li told The Associated Press by telephone that 12 bodies have been recovered “but we don't know how many are buried.” He said 15 of the injured people have been sent to a hospital.

The landslide occurred on a mountain of waste from jade mines in Hpakant region, the epicenter of the money-spinning industry in Kachin state. Massive chunks of the precious stone are mined with heavy machines, but small pieces get left behind in the waste, which is then piled up in huge mountains outside the mines.

Villagers routinely scavenge through these unstable piles of dirt and rocks to look for the small pieces, but often become victims of landslides.

Police officer Tun Tun Lin confirmed the landslide in Waikha village but had no information about casualties. Hpakant is 950 kilometers (600 miles) north of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.