Five Yay Ma Hsay – or ‘unwashed’ as the jade miners of northern Myanmar are known – arrived early Thursday at the pit to scrape out a living on a scraggy hillside, lured by the prospect of finding a stone that could transform their lives.
But only three would return, the others victims of Myanmar’s worst-ever mine disaster after a landslide in heavy rains entombed at least 174 people, with scores more feared missing.
Sai Ko, 22, survived the spin-dryer of rock and heavy sludge by clinging to the corpse of a fellow miner, and battling to land.
His friend Zaw Lwin, 29, and his younger brother San Lwin were miraculously spat out from the churning torrent and delivered naked onto the shore, their clothes ripped off by the deluge.
But two of the crew didn’t make it.
Than Niang was cremated on Saturday, while Thet Shin is missing presumed dead, one of scores victims still unaccounted for from the accident at the Hwekha mine, in northern Kachin State.
“We have many dreams of helping our families,” a shaken Sai Ko told reporters.
“But it’s not worth it. I will never go back.”