Bodies of 23 Myanmar landslide victims found

Heavy monsoon rains have pounded Myanmar in recent days and show no sign of abating, raising fears that the worst might be yet to come. (AFP)
Updated 30 July 2018

Bodies of 23 Myanmar landslide victims found

  • Rescuers are still looking for a further four victims, many of whom belong to the small ethnic Rawang minority in the remote area of Kachin state
  • Landslides have killed dozens this year around the treacherous jade mines

YANGON: The bodies of 23 victims of a landslide in Myanmar’s northern jade mining area have been recovered, an official confirmed Monday, after a days-long search hampered by heavy monsoon rains.
Rescuers are still looking for a further four victims, many of whom belong to the small ethnic Rawang minority in the remote area of Kachin state, the heart of the country’s notoriously shadowy multibillion-dollar jade industry.
“We found 23 dead bodies by yesterday (Sunday) evening and we will try to find the remaining four if the weather is good today,” an official from Hpakant’s local government said, requesting anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Landslides have killed dozens this year around the treacherous jade mines where impoverished locals comb deep gouges in the ground for pieces of the semi-precious gemstone.
This latest disaster in Set Mu sub-township hit the small Rawang ethnic group particularly hard.
The mainly-Christian community number only about 70,000 people and are one of Myanmar’s smallest ethnicities.
“Funerals have been held by their respective families. This time our local villages have really been hurt badly,” said Shwe Thein, a local resident helping with recovery operations.
Much of the world’s top-quality jade comes from Kachin state but most is smuggled over the border to feed the insatiable demand in China.
It is big business for those at the top - watchdog Global Witness estimated that the sector in 2014 was worth some $31 billion.
The lack of regulations and poor oversight, however, mean that little of the profits end up in state coffers.
Kachin’s abundant natural resources help fund both sides of a decades-long conflict between ethnic rebels and the military as they battle over control of the mines and the income they bring.
More than 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes - many multiple times - since a 17-year ceasefire broke down in 2011.


FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

  • Special agent Rachel Rojas thanked Saudi Arabia for its cooperation in the investigation
  • Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was shot dead after he opened fire and killed three people at the base in Florida

PENSACOLA: Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI said on Sunday.
Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the shooter used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.
“We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case,” Rojas, the lead investigator on the case, said at a news conference.
“We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” she said.
Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.
The FBI identified him as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge the Kingdom’s support in the investigation.
Rojas said there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
“Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation,” she said. “I thank the kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation.”