Four people drown in lake made by excavation company

June 22, 2020

HURFOM: In early 2018, with the permission from the Mon State government, Golden Geo Myanmar Co., Ltd and Royal Eagle Myanmar Development Co., Ltd began excavations searching for fabled caches of buried gold and other valuables. The treasure was thought to have been left by retreating Japanese troops during World War II at Mount Mane Bala nearby Thanbyuzayat, Mon State.

The companies found nothing and the Mon State government stopped the project. However,  in January 2020, the Royal Eagle company began excavations again.

The government had instructed the companies that they must refill the holes and plant trees in order to conserve the environment,  but the companies did not follow the order. As a result  many deep pits and holes remain in the Mount Mane Mala area.

In the rainy season, water quickly filled the holes and created huge lakes. On June 17, a woman and three children drowned at one of these lakes.

The deceased woman was a helper at the village monastery and the children were from the village,  who were learning the Mon language at the monastery. On that day, after planting “Elephant Foot Yam”, they needed to clean their limbs so they went to the lake. They didn’t come back.  We went to  search for them but found them dead at the lake just one furlong away from the monastery,” said Wae Kawar Village Administrator U Myo Than of Thanbyuzayat Township.

Ko Zaw Oo, a member of a social assistance association in Thanbyuzayat added, “At 6 pm, we were informed that there were dead bodies so we rushed there and found three bodies. (As we knew that four people drowned,) one body was missing. The lake is really deep and there was also heavy rain. The lake water was muddy so we saw nothing. After diving into the water, we found the last body.” 

This tragedy was one of many that concerned residents have had. Local plantation owners near the excavation site have been worried about potential landslides destroying their rubber plantations.

The victims’ family members said if the companies filled the holes after excavation, nothing will happen. The companies didn’t follow the government’s instruction so bad things happened,” said U Myo Than.

The report made to the  Thanbyuzayat police stated that “four people died from drowning at an old water well created by excavation of Myanmar Eagle Company. The local people have criticized the police for using the word “old water well”.  They argue that it looks like the police want to make sure that the company has less responsibility for the deaths.

There were about 50 acres of plantation owned by 35 people around the area. We want the project to be closed. We don’t want more people to die. We want to live peacefully in our region. The company came and dug (the Mount) and found nothing but we, the locals, are the ones who have to suffer,” said a resident of Wae Kawar village.

Local villagers have filed a report to the Thanbyuzayat Township General Administration Department in order to  stop other deaths and to make the company accountable.

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