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Help arrives in new earthquake zone

Catholic relief workers rush aid to remote disaster area where more than 120 have died reporters, Bangkok, Yangon and Mandalay

March 25, 2011

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Catholic organisations have mobilised to assess damage and casualties caused by a series of earthquakes in north-east Myanmar and north Thailand March 24 and 25 that have killed at least 120 people. A team of five from Karuna Kengtung Social Service in eastern Myanmar, arrived on the scene Friday to collect data, said Daw Rose Mary, executive secretary of Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS) in Yangon. Five others are buying noodles, coffee mix and blankets and to go the quake affected areas today, according to a Kengtung Karuna staff member. In Myanmar's Kengtung Diocese the mother of a nun and her daughter-in-law were killed when a church, presbytery and convent were hit and badly damaged, Sister Rose Mary Naw Ru Ti, superior of the Sisters of Maria Bambina convent, told by phone this morning. Another Charity nun's nephew was also dead. So far there are reports of around 120 dead in Myanmar and just one in Thailand, where another 5.5 magnitude quake early March 25 added to the 6.8 that struck around 1330 GMT the previous night with its epicentre 89km north of the Thai city of Chiang Rai, according to Myanmar Climate Change Watch. The first quake was felt in Bangkok, more than 800km south of Chiang Rai and as far away as Vietnam, where people in tall buildings were evacuated in Hanoi. It was reported as being centred just 10 km below the surface but caused only slight damage on the Thai side. In Myanmar the death toll was expected to rise following tremors that destroyed more than 100 buildings. Some 40 people were reported to have been injured. The AFP news agency reported that 25 people had been killed in the town of Tarlay alone. The report said five monasteries and 35 buildings in the town had collapsed and that roads in the area had been damaged A team of Karuna Kengtung is working together with the  Red Cross in Mon Ling, one of the worst quake hit areas, where 28 bodies were found according to Daw Rose. Karuna Kengtung director Fr. Stephen Ano was due to fly back to Tachileik from Yangon to assist the quake relief program according to a staff from Kentung Karuna office. Sr. Ru Ti added that Catholic housing between Mon Lin and Thiri cities had been seriously damaged but any causalities were not known yet. Myanmar's government put the death toll at 74 and 111 injured although reports quoted Red Cross officials at the scene as saying the toll had passed 120. Some 244 houses, 14 Buddhist monasteries and nine government buildings were damaged. In Chiang Rai, Thailand's northernmost province which borders Myanmar, there were reports that the spires of several Buddhist pagodas had been damaged, with some tiles smashed. MY13756.1646

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