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The family of a 12-year old killed when a tailing pond at a mine site collapsed and flooded a village will be paid compensation by the site operators, local sources said.
A resident of Kanbauk, some 77 kilometers north of Dawei in Tennasserim Division, told DVB that Rangoon-based Delco Mining is set to pay 7 million kyat (US $5,460) to the family of the dead child.
The mother said her child had drowned while trapped under the wreckage of their home, after a surge of the mineral-laden water triggered a landslide which then hit the small town last week.
“My child drowned, buried underneath the rubble of our house. Another child and I were also swept away in the water– we only survived because we landed on the bridge,” the mother said.
The landslide was triggered on 23 September when the embankment of a tailing pond buckled, sending large amounts of dumped soil and water into Kanbauk village.
Eleven homes were destroyed and residents of 40 others were forced to relocate. The total of 90 displaced locals were initially sheltered in a nearby monastery.
Kyaw San Oo, a local police supervisor, said new homes on 40 by 60 foot land plots will be constructed for those whose houses were ruined. He added that two Delco staff members are under investigation.
Last week, another local reported that a Delco representative responded to news of the flood by saying the deluge would stop ‘when the water runs out’.
“We evacuated everyone who lives by the creek’s bank – men and women, then I came back around and informed the site security about it. He said he had contacted the operators and after that I came back to the villagers, telling them to stay clear as the current is becoming stronger.
“At the time, many people still remained in the bridge. Then I came back to the site again and told the security to get the operators fast. He said he’s already done that and that the manager told him ‘it will stop when the water in the pond runs out,’” the villager said.
In the aftermath of the flooding, Kanbuak resident Aung Lwin told DVB tensions were high.
“Young men in the village are furious [about the incident]. They gathered at the village’s monument and called for action against the company’s manager, and to stop operations,” said Aung Lwin.
Delco reportedly agreed to the villagers demands: to detain the site manager and other relevant officials; to cease mining operations in the area until the case is settled; for the company to take responsibility for damages suffered by the villagers and to arrange a meeting with town leaders to discuss the permanent closure of the company’s operations in the area.
Locals reported that they had reached out the company as early as last year to express their concerns that a potential collapse of the tailing pond would trigger landslides. Delco Mining allegedly made no moves to assuage their concerns.
The Burmese-based mining company has not responded to DVB requests for comment. Delco Mining has not issued an official statement.