A powerful earthquake hit Myanmar Thursday near its borders with China, Thailand and Laos, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake hit in eastern Myanmar, about 55 miles (89 km) north of Chiang Rai, Thailand, the survey reported. It had a magnitude of 6.8, the survey said, revising the estimate down from an initial reading of 7.0.
A woman in an area north of Chiang Rai, just four kilometres from the border, died when a brick wall collapsed on her, according to police Capt. Weerapon Samranjai.
Tremors were felt in the capital Bangkok, 479 miles (772 km) south of the epicenter. It was a relatively shallow quake, which can be very destructive.
The Geological Survey initially said the quake had a depth of 142 miles (230 km), but it later revised its estimate to say the quake was 6 miles (10 km) deep, putting it fairly close to the surface.
An aftershock hit about half an hour later, with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 and a depth of 6 miles, the USGS said.
The center of the quake was 365 miles (589 km) northeast of Rangoon, the former capital of Myanmar. It was 104 miles (168 km) south-southwest of Yunjinghong, Yunnan, China.
“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” said a report posted on the monitoring agency’s website shortly after the quakes. “The predominant vulnerable building types are wood and unreinforced brick masonry construction.” (CBC)
A destructive tsunami is not expected, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been badly hit by natural disasters in the past few years. A powerful cyclone in 2008 left an estimated 100,000 people dead, and another one two years later left 70,000 people homeless, the United Nations estimates.
The quake was significantly less than the one that hit Japan two weeks ago, causing a tsunami, leaving thousands dead or missing, and prompting fears of a nuclear meltdown.
It was roughly comparable in magnitude and depth to last year’s Haiti earthquake, which measured 7.0. More than 200,000 people died in the Haiti earthquake, and millions were affected.
That quake’s center was only 9 miles below the surface and near congested population centers. Scientists said if the quake had been centered deeper down, the damage would not have been as sever.