UK & World News

  • 11 November 2012, 22:38

At Least 12 Feared Dead In Burma Earthquake

A strong earthquake has struck northern Burma, leaving at least 12 people feared dead and dozens more injured.

The 6.8-magnitude quake was reported 70 miles (120km) north of the city of Mandalay, on Sunday morning.

While no casualties or damage were reported in the city, small towns around the epicentre of Shwebo were badly-hit.

The largest single death toll was reported by a local administrative officer in the Sintku township, where six people died in a gold mine collapse and another 11 were injured.

In nearby Thabeikyin, a primary school, 100 homes, and some government buildings were damaged. In Shwebo a bridge under construction across theIrrawaddy River collapsed.

A 5.8-magnitude aftershock was reported later on Sunday, but there were no initial reports of new damage or casualties.

Burma has a poor official disaster response system, despite a devastating cyclone in 2008 which killed 140,000 people.

"This is the worst earthquake I felt in my entire life," said Soe Soe, a 52-year-old Shwebo resident.

She said the huge concrete gate of a local monastery collapsed and that several sculptures from another pagoda in the town were damaged.

Other damage was reported in Mogok, a major gem-mining area just east of the quake's epicentre. Temples were damaged there, and some abandoned mines.

The quake was felt in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand. It comes just a week ahead of a scheduled visit to Burmaby President Barack Obama.

He will be the first US president to visit the one-time pariah nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule.

The disaster is the second to strike the area in three days.

On Friday, a tanker train derailed about 80 miles (127km) north of Shwebo, and at least 25 people were killed when overturned carriages burst into flames as they were trying to skim fuel from them.

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