Soldiers, police and volunteers pulled body after body from the rubble in northern Myanmar after on Monday, as the death toll from a landslide near several jade mines reached at least 113, a local official said, with more than 100 others missing.
The collapse occurred Saturday in the Kachin state community of Hpakant, and was the worst such disaster in recent memory.
"People were crying," said said Brang Seng, a jade businessman, who watched as bodies were pulled from the debris and taken to a hospital morgue. He added that some lost loved ones when boulders and earth ripped down the slopes. "I'm hearing that more than 100 people died. In some cases, entire families were lost."
Lamai Gum Ja, a community leader, said homes at the base of the mine dump had been flattened.
An estimated 100 to 200 people were still missing, he said. Search and rescue teams wearing bright orange uniforms combed through the rubble Sunday for survivors.
Kachin, around 600 miles northeast of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, is home to some of the world's highest-quality jade.
It generated an estimated $31 billion last year alone, most of the wealth going to individuals and companies tied to Myanmar's former military rulers, according to Global Witness, a group that investigates misuse of resource revenues.
The jade industry's epicenter, Hpakant, remains desperately poor, with bumpy dirt roads, constant electricity blackouts and sky-high heroin addiction rates.
After Myanmar's former military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government five years ago, resulting in the lifting of many Western sanctions, the already rapid pace of mining turned frenetic. No scrap of ground, no part of daily life in Hpakant is left untouched by the fleets of giant yellow trucks and backhoes that have sliced apart mountains and denuded once-plush landscape.
In the last year, dozens of small-scale miners have been maimed or lost their lives picking through tailing dumps.
"Large companies, many of them owned by families of former generals, army companies, cronies and drug lords, are making tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year through their plunder of Hpakant," said Mike Davis of Global Witness.
"Their legacy to local people is a dystopian wasteland in which scores of people at a time are buried alive in landslides," he said.
The Associated Press