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Over 60 killed in Myanmar quake

YANGON, Mar 25 – More than 60 people were killed and 90 injured after a strong earthquake struck Myanmar near its border with Thailand, an official said Friday, as some affected areas remained cut off.

The earthquake on Thursday, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured at magnitude 6.8, was felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the epicentre, Hanoi and parts of China.

A Myanmar official said dozens of people were killed in areas close to the epicentre and more than 240 buildings had collapsed.

"The death toll has increased to more than 60 now from those areas including Tarlay, Mine Lin and Tachileik townships," said the official.

"About 90 people were injured from those areas. The officials are still trying to reach some more affected areas. There are some places we cannot reach yet."

Tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, almost 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the epicentre, Hanoi and parts of China.

Just across the border from Tachileik, Thai authorities said a 52-year-old woman was killed in Mae Sai district after a wall of her house collapsed.

Terrified residents across the region fled their homes, tall buildings swayed and hospitals and schools were evacuated during the tremors.

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The quake struck 90 kilometres (60 miles) north of Chiang Rai and 235 kilometres (150 miles) north-northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand\’s second city and a popular tourist destination. Tall buildings shuddered in Bangkok during the tremor.

Its epicentre was close to the borders with Thailand and Laos and was just 10 kilometres (six miles) deep.

Thailand\’s meteorological department on Friday said it had registered six large aftershocks following the initial quake.

Chiang Rai governor Somchai Hatayatanti told AFP late Thursday that efforts were made to evacuate people from tall buildings and he had ordered all patients from Mae Sai District Hospital to be taken to Chiang Rai.

The shaking was felt throughout China\’s southwest province of Yunnan, according to state-run China National Radio, but no casualties or structural collapses had been reported as of Friday morning.

However, the earthquake reportedly caused cracks in some homes and schools in and around the rugged Xishuangbanna region which borders Myanmar, and fear of aftershocks forced many people in the area to spend the night outdoors.

Some residents of the Vietnamese capital Hanoi fled their homes in panic when the quake shook the city.

Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, 36, who lives on the 10th floor of a highrise, said her husband noticed their pet fish shaking in their tank.

"We all rushed to the street. All the other people in the apartments also rushed out," she said.

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Hanoi felt the tremor at about magnitude 5.0, according to Dinh Quoc Van, deputy head of the earthquake monitoring department.

The quake comes two weeks after Japan was hit by a monster earthquake, which unleashed a devastating tsunami that left around 27,000 people dead or missing and triggered a crisis at its Fukushima nuclear plant.

No tsunami warning was issued after the Myanmar quake as US seismologists said it was too far inland to generate a devastating wave in the Indian Ocean.

The USGS initially recorded the quake as magnitude 7.0, but later revised it down to 6.8.


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