Police in northern Myanmar said they have abandoned efforts to find the bodies of up to 100 jade miners who were buried when a mine dump collapsed. The 60m (200ft) high mountain of dirt and debris enveloped 70 makeshift huts at its foot, burying migrant miners as they slept.

Rescue workers recovered 113 bodies following the landslide in Hpakant, in Myanmar's Kachin state. Many of the dead were itinerant jade pickers and their families who made a living scavenging for scraps of jade in the towering heaps of debris left behind by mining companies. "We just don't know how many people exactly were buried since we don't have any data on people living there," Tin Swe Myint, head of the Hpakant Township Administration Department, said. "It was just a slum with these... workers living in makeshift tents."

Myanmar jade mine
Rescue workers are seen using diggers to search for bodies of miners killed by a landslide at a jade mine in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Belongings are seen in the mud as rescuers look for the bodies of miners at a jade mine in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Some of the 113 bodies recovered from the jade mine in Hpakant are wrapped in makeshift body bagsAFP

The disaster highlights the perilous conditions faced by the workers and the lack of safety regulations implemented by the companies hellbent on digging up the world's richest deposits of the green gem.

Kachin's state government has offered compensation of 600,000 kyats (little more than £300, or $550) to the families of 72 identified victims. The desultory sum reflects the limited resources of a state that is largely locked out of a mining bonanza worth billions. So far, there has been no offer of compensation from Triple One and Yadana Yaung Chi, two mining companies that police say contributed in large part to the waste mountain. Triple One dump site manager U Soe said the company was not responsible for the deaths, adding that migrant miners voluntarily chose to stay beneath the mountain of debris.

General Thein Moe Tun, a military official for the Hpakant region, said another pile of debris had given way in 2014 in an area near this incident. He said scores of people died in that accident and their bodies were not recovered. Migrant workers had been ordered away to nearby villages but refused to move, he added. "The company will not be stopped from using this dump site," he said. "It is not their fault."

Myanmar jade mine
Itinerant miners wait as a mining company vehicle dumps rubble on a mine dump in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Itinerant miners scramble up a pile of rubble to search for jade stones at a mine in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Itinerant miners search a mound of rubble at a jade mine in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Miners search for jade stones at a mine dump in HpakantSoe Zeya Tun/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Jade pickers are pictured searching through rubble dumped by mining companies at a jade mine in Hpakant, on 7 July 2013Minzayar/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Itinerant jade pickers are pictured resting in a makeshift shelter on a rubble heap at a jade mine in Hpakant on 4 October 2015Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Myanmar jade mine
Freelance miners dig for raw jade stones in an enormous rubble heap at a mine in Hpakant, in this photo taken on 4 October 2015Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Myanmar jade mine
Itinerant jade pickers' makeshift shelters are seen at the foot of a slag heap in Hpakant on 4 October 2015Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Myanmar jade mine
This photo taken on 4 October 2015 shows itinerant miners digging for raw jade stones in piles of waste rubbleYe Aung Thu/AFP

The jade industry, centred on Hpakant, was worth more than $30bn in 2014, according to an estimate by Global Witness, a group that investigates misuse of resource wealth. Jade mining companies controlled by Myanmar's military, tycoons linked to them, and drug barons have made Hpakant a "dystopian wasteland", Global Witness said in a statement. "There is no regulation, there is no engineering involved in this and there would need to be to keep these structures stable," Mike Davis, the organisation's Asia director said, referring to the mining dumps.

Much of the jade mined in Hpakant is believed to be smuggled to neighbouring China, where the stone is highly valued. The US Treasury maintains a ban on imports of jade from Myanmar and includes the industry among "specific activities and factors that contribute to human rights abuses and undermine Burma's democratic reform process".

Myanmar jade mine
A jade mine in Hpakant, in Myanmar's Kachin State, is pictured on 4 October 2015Ye Aung Thu/AFP
Myanmar jade mine
Heavy vehicles are pictured in a company compound near a jade mine in Hpakant on 7 July 2013Minzayar/Reuters
Myanmar jade mine
Traders are pictured inspect jade at a tea shop in Hpakant on 8 July 2013Minzayar/Reuters

Myanmar's newly elected government has announced it plans to tighten control over the country's poorly regulated jade mines. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a resounding victory in the country's recent polls. However, her government could risk running up against powerful vested interests controlling Myanmar's jade mines if it moves too forcefully to rein in their business. The jade industry is dominated by companies linked to leaders of the previous military government, ethnic armies and businessmen with close connections to the former junta.