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Deaths as earthquake strikes Burma

At least five people were reported to have been killed after a strong earthquake struck northern Burma.

Scattered damage and injuries also were reported in areas close to the town of Shwebo, the magnitude-6.8 quake's epicentre.

According to news reports, the most significant damage appeared to be the collapsing of bridge being built across the Irrawaddy River in Shwebo. The website of Weekly Eleven magazine said five people were killed when the bridge, which was 80% built, collapsed.

Other damage was reported in Mogok, a major gem-mining area just east of the quake's epicentre. Temples were damaged there, as were some abandoned ruby mines hit by landslides, Sein Win, a resident, said by phone.

An official from the Meteorological Department in Naypyitaw said the quake struck at 7.42am local time.

There were no reports of casualties or major damage in Burma's second-largest city Mandalay, about 72 miles south of the epicentre and the region's only major population centre.

Mandalay residents contacted by phone said the quake was strong enough to send people dashing out of their homes for safety, as water splashed out of jars and tanks. They said they saw no major structural damage in their immediate neighbourhoods, but added that it did cause cracks in some walls.

The epicentre of the quake is in a region frequently hit by small temblors that usually cause little damage.

The quake was felt in Bangkok, the capital of neighbouring Thailand.

It comes just a week ahead of a scheduled visit to Burma by 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.


From Belfast Telegraph