burma earthquake.jpgMore than 60 people have died in a magnitude-6.8 earthquake in Burma which struck near the Lao and Thai borders.

The US Geological Survey said it happened at 1355 GMT on Thursday and was centred about 110 kilometres from the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai.

It was felt 800 kilometres to the south in the Thai capital Bangkok, and in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

The quake was shallow, at a depth of 10 kilometres. There are fears the casualties could be much higher.

 

State radio in Burma said that 65 people had been killed and 111 injured in the quake. It said that 244 houses, 14 Buddhist monasteries and nine government buildings were damaged.

The town of Tachileik and surrounding villages in Burma’s Shan state appear to have borne the brunt of the earthquake. Cracks are visible in roads and rice fields have been wrecked by rising silt and water, reports say.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that 15 houses collapsed in the town of Tarlay. Roads, bridges, hospitals and other buildings have been at least partly damaged.

In Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, scores of people have been injured and buildings affected.

“We are worried that the area might be hit with stronger quakes. There was another quake at 7am,” said Somsri Meethong of the Mae Sai District office, referring to an aftershock.

“I had to run again like last night. What we have seen on TV about Japan added to our fear.”

One woman in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, close to the epicentre, was killed when a wall collapsed.

In neighbouring Laos, little damage and no casualties have been reported.

 

The head of the disaster preparedness for the Red Cross there, Bountheun Menevilay, said the quake was felt strongly in the thinly populated border provinces of Luang Namtha and Bokeo.

Earlier reports suggested there had been two strong earthquakes moments apart in the same area, but the USGS later clarified that there had been just one quake.

Earlier this month, on 11 March, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck just north of this area, 225 kilometres southwest of Dali in Yunnan, southern China.

That was the same day as the huge 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami hit Japan; however, Japan is on a different tectonic plate.