14 dead as destructive 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Central Myanmar [Images]

A strong destructive 6.8-magnitude earthquake strikes Central Myanmar at 7:42 local time.

According to earthquake-report.com 14 people have been reported dead in the quake’s aftermath with local media reporting that five people were killed.

Scattered damage and injuries also were reported on Sunday in areas close to the quake’s epicenter.

According to news reports, the most significant damage appeared to be the collapsing of bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy River in the town of Shwebo, the location of the quake’s epicenter.

Weekly Eleven magazine report five people were killed as a result of a collapsed bridge, which was only 80 percent structurally finished.

According to a witness, the huge concrete gate of a monastery collapsed and several sculptures from another pagoda were damaged in the town.

A series of strong aftershocks on Sunday added to the nervousness.

The 6.8-magnitude quake hit around 116km north of Mandalay at a depth of just 10km, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It initially put the magnitude of the quake at 7.0.

“I ran from my bed carrying my daughter out to the street. There were many people in the road. Some were shouting and others felt dizzy,” Mandalay resident San Yu Kyaw told the AFP news agency by telephone.

“People are now scared of more earthquakes. Especially those who live or run businesses in high-rise buildings are desperate and don’t know what to do,” he said.

The were no immediate reports of casualties but building standards are generally poor in the country formerly known as Burma, one of Asia’s most impoverished nations.

The USGS issued a yellow alert, saying “some casualties and damage are possible” but that the impact should be relatively localised.

It struck around 572km east of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, one of the world’s biggest cities.

The quake was felt in neighboring Thailand, including in the capital Bangkok, according to reports on social media websites.

It comes little more than a week before US President Barack Obama is due in Myanmar on a historic visit, as the West begins to roll back sanctions to reward a series of dramatic political reforms under President Thein Sein.

Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, which is emerging from decades of military rule under a new quasi-civilian government.

Kyaw Kyaw Lwin, an official at the National Earthquake Information Division in the capital Naypyidaw, said it was the strongest quake in the area since a 6.0-magnitude quake in 1991.

More than 70 people were killed in March 2011 when a powerful 6.8-magnitude quake struck Myanmar near the borders with Thailand and Laos, reducing homes and government buildings to rubble and affecting thousands of people.

Aid workers at the time praised Myanmar’s regime for its speedy response to that quake, in contrast to the aftermath of previous disasters to strike the country under the old military junta.The 6.8-magnitude quake struck some 120km (70 miles) north of the second-largest city of Mandalay, at a depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey said.

In Mandalay, terrified residents dashed out of their homes for safety, fearing more tremors.

An official in Sintku township near the quake’s epicentre told Associated Press six people had died there, some of them workers at a gold mine that collapsed. A number of people were injured.

A police officer in Shwebo said five construction workers who had been working on the Radana Thinga bridge near the town were missing after “a huge steel beam fell into the river”.

He told Reuters that one woman had also died and 10 people had been injured in the nearby town of Kyauk Myaung after a house collapsed.

“This is the worst earthquake I felt in my entire life,” 52-year-old Shwebo resident Soe Soe told Associated Press.

Temples were reported damaged at Mogok, close to the epicentre.

Save The Children told Agence France-Presse it had reports of 13 deaths across four sites in Burma, with some 40 people injured.

Residents in Mandalay described panic in the streets as they fled the shaking buildings.

“I ran from my bed carrying my daughter out to the street. There were many people in the road. Some were shouting and others felt dizzy,” San Yu Kyaw said.

The earthquake – which was felt as far away as Bangkok in neighbouring Thailand – was followed by two strong aftershocks.

The US Geological Survey issued a yellow alert, indicating that “some casualties and damage are possible”.

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