83 workers buried alive as landslide measuring nearly TWO MILLION CUBIC METRES sweeps through Tibetan gold mine
- Huge mass of mud and rocks engulfed mine site in Tibetan village of Gyam, Maizhokunggar county
- Bodies of two workers have already been found and 3,000 are fighting to find the rest using diggers and sniffer dogs
- Workers were thought to have been sleeping in tents, with reports that a ‘natural disaster’ promoted landslide
Rescuers are desperately scouring a gold mine to locate the bodies of 83 miners who were engulfed in two million cubic metres of mud and rocks after a landslide in Tibet.
The bodies of two workers have already been recovered after the huge mass of debris swept through the mine, covering an area of 1.5 square miles.
More than 3,000 rescue workers were rushed to the scene in the mountainous Tibetan village of Gyam, Maizhokunggar county, agonisingly searching for more than 24 hours using diggers and sniffer dogs.
Mass: Around two million cubic metres of mud and rocks swept through the mine in Gyama, a village in Maizhokunggar county,Tibet, on Friday morning
One body was found at 5:35 p.m., nearly 36 hours after the landslide buried the workers, who were believed to have been sleeping in their tents.
The rescuers were hampered when snow began to fall on Saturday afternoon, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
The miners had been working for Huatailong Mining Development, a subsidiary of the China National Gold Group Corporation, a state-owned enterprise and the country’s largest gold producer.
State media said that two of the buried workers are Tibetans and that two are women.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was on an official trip to Congo, and Premier Li Keqiang ordered authorities to ‘spare no efforts’ in their rescue work, state media reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was on an official trip to Congo, and Premier Li Keqiang ordered authorities to “spare no efforts” in their rescue work, state media have reported.
The incident at the mine – located around 45 miles east of Lhasa, the regional capita – immediately sparked debate about the safety of extensive mining activity on the Tibetan plateau.
Others took to social media to question whether the state-run excavation was excessive, but the comments were soon blocked by censors.
Officials in Beijing said the cause of the disaster is yet to be fully investigated, although state media said the mudslide was caused by a ‘natural disaster’.
Btan Tundop, a Tibetan resident, writing about the mining company’s dominance of the area, said: ‘The entire Maizhokunggar has been taken over by China National Gold Group. Local Tibetans say the county and the village might as well be called Huatailong’
Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser, who has been following the mining development in Gyama and surrounding areas since 2007, said China’s powerful and resource-hungry state-owned companies had ravaged the landscape.
‘Unchecked mining has polluted water, sickened animals and humans, dislocated herdsmen and now caused a massive mudslide,’ Woeser wrote on her blog.
The Chinese government has been encouraging development of mining and other industries in isolated Tibet as a way to promote its economic growth and raise living standards.
The region has abundant deposits of copper, chromium, bauxite and other precious minerals and metals, and is a hub for industrial development.
Tibet remains among China’s poorest regions despite producing a large share of its minerals.