Strong quake hits Burma but no deaths reported
Resident women who rushed outdoors following tremors speak on their mobile phones outside their houses in Kolkata, India on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. (AP / Bikas Das)
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, April 14, 2016 2:53AM EDT
YANGON, Burma - A strong earthquake that struck Burma damaged at least nine Buddhist pagodas and was felt in parts of eastern India and Bangladesh, but an official said Thursday there were no reports of serious damage or injuries in the Southeast Asian country.
The magnitude 6.9 quake struck Wednesday evening at a depth of 135 kilometres, 396 kilometres north of Burma's capital, Naypyidaw, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Residents in Burma's main city of Yangon panicked after the quake struck, causing residents to rush out of their homes. An Associated Press journalist who was in a Yangon hospital at the time of the quake said the six-story Shwegonedine Specialist Center shook strongly and many people, including patients, staff and visitors, ran outside.
The quake was centred in the jungle and hills 220 kilometres northwest of Mandalay, Burma's second-biggest city. While the area is prone to earthquakes, it is generally sparsely populated, and most houses are low-rise structures.
In the Sagaing region just southwest of Mandalay, Sa Willy Frient, the director of the Relief and Resettlement Department, said there were no reports of serious injuries.
"There are still no death reports," he said, adding that nine pagodas had been damaged.
"None of the pagodas collapsed, but there are cracks in some parts," he said.
Government offices were closed Thursday because of a three-day national holiday to mark Burma's traditional new year, and there was no official announcement about the quake's impact.
Zaw Myint Htoo, a 38-year-old resident of Mogok, 200 kilometres north of Mandalay, confirmed there was no major damage in that city either.
The tremors were felt in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Assam, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were visiting during their tour of India. Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, were staying in Assam's Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday night and were safe, according to the British High Commission in New Delhi.
"We felt the tremor very strongly, but all is fine," said British Deputy High Commissioner Scott Furssedonn-Wood, who was accompanying the royal couple.
William and Kate left for neighbouring Bhutan on Thursday and were to return to India on Friday to visit the Taj Mahal.
People also reported feeling the quake in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, 484 kilometres from the epicentre.