6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Myanmar, Tremors Shake India


A strong 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit Myanmar late April 13 with tremors felt in neighboring countries such as India, Bangladesh, and China, reported the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake caused by oblique reverse faulting struck at 8:25 p.m. local time. Its epicenter is 74 kilometers (46 miles) southeast of Mawlaik in the northwestern region of the country with a depth of 135 kilometers (83.7 miles). Although the quake lasted for a short time, the shakes were rough.

Scores of people in the cities of Yangon and Naypyidaw, the country's capital, ran in panic as the intermediate-depth earthquake shook their buildings and homes, while those who were staying near Bagan, one of the most popular tourist destinations and known for hundreds of pagodas, left their hotel rooms.

The strong tremors reached India, Bangladesh, China, and Tibet. In Bangladesh, which shares a border with Myanmar, at least 80 people were reported to have been injured, with 24 admitted to hospitals, possibly because of stampede while many stopped traffic as they gathered on the streets frightened. In Chittagong, a port city, the earthquake caused four buildings to lean.

Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, who are staying in a national park in Assam in northeastern India, also felt the shake but are fine. The royal couple was in the former British colony for a tour before they are off to Bhutan on April 14.

In Myanmar, there are no reported casualties, and structural damages were described to be minor. None of the pagodas, which are highly revered by the locals, have collapsed, but "there are cracks in some parts," said Relief and Resettlement Department director Willy Frient.

"It's difficult to know the [extent] of destruction at nighttime," explained Cho Cho Win, a lawmaker. The areas closest to the epicenter have poor communication infrastructure, and the region is remote or sparsely populated.

Earthquakes in Myanmar are common with one of the same magnitude striking in 2011. The shakes reached Thailand and Vietnam and killed 75 people, some of whom died during a landslide. One bridge also collapsed.

Because earthquakes remain to be unpredictable, disaster preparedness is extremely challenging. Thus, the U.S. government is spending heavily on early warning systems.

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