12 November 2012 08:45 | By AFP
Powerful quake shakes Myanmar

6.8-magnitude temblor and aftershocks kills at least 13 people, sparks panic in major central city of Mandalay



Powerful quake shakes Myanmar (© STRINGER/Newscom/RTR)
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A powerful earthquake which hit Myanmar Sunday killed at least 13 people, injured dozens and sparked panic in the major central city of Mandalay, residents and aid workers said.

The shallow 6.8-magnitude quake struck in a rural area 116 kilometres (72 miles) north of Mandalay followed by a series of aftershocks, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Another strong quake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook the same region late Sunday, it added. The tremor was felt by an AFP team near the town of Shwebo, which is north of Mandalay and close to the epicentre of the earlier quake.

There was no immediate information on whether the latest quake caused further deaths or major damage.

In Mandalay, the country's second-biggest city, residents fled shaking homes and hotels in terror. No major damage was reported in the city, although construction standards are generally poor in the country formerly known as Burma, one of Asia's most impoverished nations.

The quake 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 dramatic political reforms under President Thein Sein.

The quake was felt in neighbouring Thailand including in Bangkok.

Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar. The USGS said six strong earthquakes, of 7.0-magnitude and more, struck between 1930 and 1956 near the Sagaing Fault, which runs north to south through the centre of the country.

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.

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