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Powerful quake hits Myanmar, damaging famed Bagan temples


Yangon : A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Myanmar today, killing at least one person and damaging pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan, officials said.

The quake, which the US Geological Survey said hit at a depth of 84 kilometres, was also felt across neighbouring Thailand and Bangladesh, sending panicked residents rushing onto the streets.

At least one man was killed in a Myanmar village near the epicentre, said Han Zaw Win, a local MP from Magway region where the quake struck.

“A 22 year-old man was killed when a nearby building collapsed during the earthquake,” he told AFP, adding that a woman was  injured.

A tourist police officer reported damage to several temples in Bagan – Myanmar’s prized ancient capital, some 30 kilometres north of the epicentre.

“Some famous pagodas were damaged during the earthquake,” he told AFP, adding that some of the damage was “serious”.

The officer, who requested anonymity, said a Spanish tourist was slightly hurt when she fell from a temple while watching the sunset.

Scaling Bagan’s ancient Buddhist monuments, of which there are more than 2,500, is a daily ritual among tourists and local pilgrims who flock to the site.

The temples, built between the 10th and 14th centuries, are revered in the Buddhist-majority country.

Myanmar, which has opened its doors to a rising tide of visitors since emerging from junta rule in 2011, is eager to see the ancient capital designated as a UNESCO world heritagesite.

The USGS estimated that the quake’s impact would be “relatively localised” but noted that many buildings in the region are “highly vulnerable” to shaking.

The earthquake caused high-rise buildings in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon to sway, as well as those in the Thai capital Bangkok.

The quake was also felt throughout south and southwestern Bangladesh close to the border with Myanmar, with television footage showing residents running outside.

At least 20 people were injured as workers tried to flee a building in the industrial area of Savar outside Dhaka, ATN Bangla television reported.

“All of us ran to the streets leaving the houses and shops unsecured as the quake seemed very dangerous,” Nazmus Sakib, from the southern city of Chittagong near the Myanmar border, wrote on his Facebook wall.

Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, although the country has not suffered a major one since 2012.

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