A major earthquake hit central Myanmar today near Mandalay,
its second-biggest city, but reports suggested damage was
limited and officials contacted knew of only five dead,
although several construction workers were missing.
The 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck around 60km northwest of
Mandalay, the U.S Geological Survey said. It was quite
shallow at around 10km deep.
"I've never felt such a strong tremor. I also heard some loud
noises and the light went out. No idea about the damage," one
Mandalay resident said by telephone.
Several very strong aftershocks hit the region but there were
no reports of serious damage in Mandalay.
Residents in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand,
also felt the quake.
An official at Mandalay Meteorological Department said the
epicentre was near the town of Shwebo and struck at 7:41 a.m.
Local media said a half-built bridge over the Irrawaddy River
between Kyauk Myaung and Singgu had collapsed.
A police officer in Shwebo, the administrative centre, said
one woman had died and 10 people had been injured in Kyauk
"A house collapsed in Kyauk Myaung. The Radana Thinga Bridge,
still under construction, over the river was badly damaged. A
huge steel beam fell into the river and five workers went
missing," he told Reuters.
A police officer in Singgu Township opposite Kyauk Myaung on
the east side of the Irrawaddy told Reuters that four people
had died there and another nine were injured in the
"Those injured are not in a critical condition. We are still
monitoring the damage and casualties in the environs," he
State television, the usual mouthpiece for government
statements in Myanmar along with state-run newspapers, gave a
report on the quake that did not mention casualties or
Local media reported minor damage in several areas around
Mandalay, including Amarapura, a town popular with tourists
because of its monasteries and the longest teak bridge in the
world. Pagodas had been damaged there, media said.
Myanmar is among Asia's poorest countries.
A quasi-civilian government has opened up the country since
taking over in March 2011 from the military, which had ruled
for nearly 50 years.
The military regime was condemned by humanitarian agencies in
2008 for initially refusing international help to cope with
Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 people.
President Barack Obama is set to become the first U.S. leader
to visit Myanmar this month, the strongest international
endorsement of the country's fragile democratic transition.
Obama will travel to Myanmar during a November 17-20 tour of
Southeast Asia that will also take in Thailand and Cambodia.
It will be his first international trip since winning a
second term last week.