Quake in Burma leaves at least 12 feared dead

Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 00:00

A strong earthquake struck northern Burma yesterday, causing a bridge and a gold mine to collapse, damaging several ancient Buddhist pagodas and leaving as many as 12 people feared dead.

No casualties or major damage were reported in the nearest major population centre, the country’s second-biggest city of Mandalay, about 115km (72 miles) south of the quake’s epicentre near the town of Shwebo. Smaller towns closer to the quake’s epicentre were worse-hit.

An official from Burma’s meteorological department said the magnitude-6.8 quake struck at 7.42am local time.

The area surrounding the epicentre is underdeveloped, and casualty reports were coming in bit by bit, mostly from local media. Burma has a poor official disaster response system, despite having lost upwards of 140,000 people to a devastating cyclone in 2008.

The region is a centre for mining of minerals and gemstones, and several mines were reported to have collapsed.

The biggest single death toll was reported by a local administrative officer in Sintku township – on the Irrawaddy river near the quake’s epicentre – who said six people had died there and another 11 were injured. He said some of the dead were miners who were killed when a gold mine collapsed.

According to news reports, several people died when a bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy river collapsed east of Shwebo. The bridge linked the town of Sintku with Kyaukmyaung.

The website of Weekly Eleven magazine said four people were killed and 25 injured when the bridge, which was 80 per cent finished, fell. The local government announced a toll of two dead and 16 injured. All of the victims appeared to be workers. – (AP)