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Locals from Kachin State — home to Myanmar’s largest jade mines — say they are worried for their safety after a villager was injured by dynamite blasts last Saturday.
A stone struck a jade scavenger, Zaw Moe Oo, on the back of his head just before midday on 28 September and was immediately rushed to the nearest Hpakant hospital. Due to the seriousness of his head injury the hospital immediately recommended he go to a hospital in the better-resourced hospitals of Mandalay.
He sustained a crack in his skull, according to locals who helped him be transferred to Mandalay hospital.
Zaw Moe Oo said he was struck following the heavy dynamite explosion at the jade mine operated by Tun Tauk Zabu company.
Most jade mines are close to shanty towns — unofficially built residential areas and schools — and villagers are calling on companies to stop using dangerous explosives the could put their children’s lives at risk.
“The wall of the school building could collapse any day due to the big explosions at the mines. And the road near Mazutyan village has cracks that are getting bigger,” said Tin Hlaing, a villager from Sankha village.
Locals say there has also been an increase in jade mining companies using heavy dynamite compared to previous years.
When dynamite explodes, walls and glass windows of buildings within two miles shake. The banks of the hilly areas also have cracks from the explosions, villagers from Sankha and Mazutyan told DVB.
“Have a look. The glasses at my office are broken,” said Naung Latt, from an environmental group, Green Land company. “Jade mining companies do not compensate for the destruction here.”
They added that a representative of the company arrived at the hospital in Hpakant to provide 500,000 kyat($320 USD) for medical expense. But, family members of the jade scavenger rejected the financial aid because the company did not agree to provide sufficient medical expenditure along with medical treatment.
The representative of the company decline to give a comment about the case when DVB contacted them.