Deadly Myanmar mine disaster caused by poor planning, say data sleuths

A detailed analysis of satellite and remote-sensing data has uncovered poor conditions at the Wai Khar jade mine in northern Myanmar, where a landslide last July killed more than 170 people.

The international team of authors behind the study1 — the first to rigorously document a mining accident in Myanmar — say the results suggest that mismanagement and poor design contributed to the tragedy, not simply monsoon rains, as was initially assumed.

As well as shedding light on the causes of the disaster, which have not yet been fully resolved, the authors hope the findings will aid documentation of mine collapses and improve site planning — both in Myanmar and in other countries that see frequent mining accidents.

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Andrew Silver