At Least 66 Die in Tibetan Landslide

Environmental policies blamed


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After a massive landslide buried a mining camp in Tibet’s Gyama Valley on Friday, rescue workers have recovered the bodies of 66 mine workers buried beneath the rock and mud. No survivors have been found, and hopes are fading as the search continues for the 17 that are still missing.

The possibility of secondary landslides halted search efforts earlier this week, with operations resuming Tuesday morning. Rescuers are searching a debris field that covers about two miles.

This tragedy has sparked an unprecedented amount of criticism from Chinese bloggers of the government’s environmental policies in Tibet. In recent years, Chinese companies have moved to expand mining operations across the Tibetan Plateau, drawing protests from locals who must bear the environmental costs of these projects. Though official statements blame weather for the landslide, other reports blame recent aggressive efforts to expand the Gyama mine, which have exacerbated the risk of such disasters.

The Gyama mine is one of the largest in the area. It is also one of the most controversial. Mining operations there have displaced 100 nomadic families, threatened local water quality, and posed a barrier to those who wish to visit the revered Gyama Valley, famous as the birthplace of Tibet’s first king. The mine largely employs Han Chinese workers, taking jobs from locals. Of the 83 workers at Gyama, just two were Tibetan.

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