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Myanmar quake toll rises to 12

Workers missing and miners trapped by aftershocks

A monastery damaged by the earthquake near Shwebo (photo courtesy of Ministry of Information) A monastery damaged by the earthquake near Shwebo (photo courtesy of Ministry of Information)
  • John Zaw, Mandalay
  • Myanmar
  • November 12, 2012
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An earthquake near Mandalay yesterday has left at least 12 people dead , with the number expected to rise as several workers remain missing after a half-built bridge collapsed.

Reports said emergency services were struggling to access the area around the epicenter 45 miles from Shwebo, a town north of Mandalay in upper Myanmar, as a succession of aftershocks followed the original quake which registered a 6.8 magnitude.

At least 10 people were reported to be still trapped in a gold mine in the affected area yesterday.

“Local authorities, relief workers sent from Mandalay and Myanmar Red Cross workers are trying to help the quake victims,” said the local administrative office in Thebeikkyin, one of a handful of villages at the epicenter of the quake.

Vice President Sai Mauk Hkam visited the village yesterday where more than 100 houses were damaged, along with schools and government and religious buildings, according to the state-run New light of Myanmar.

In Mandalay, no major damage or casualties were reported but a series of aftershocks prompted some panicked residents to sleep in temporary shelters. Authorities issued warnings on loud speakers that people should stay away from old buildings that could be prone to collapse.

“I have never seen that kind of huge, shaking, trembling experience in more than 40 years of my life. It made elderly people dizzy and sick,” said a Mandalay street vendor.

The US Geological Survey recorded the earthquake at 7:42 a.m. local time yesterday morning at a depth of less than 10 kilometers, which was followed by three plus-five magnitude aftershocks, the latest of which struck in the evening.

Father Paul Thet Khine, the parish priest of St. Joseph’s Church in Shwebo, said many members of the congregation left before the final blessing during Mass yesterday as the quake hit.

“Some statues fell down and loud noises could be heard in the church. I thought the church was going to collapse,” he said.

Myanmar lies directly over the Sagaing Fault, which has produced earthquakes above 7.0 magnitude in the past century.

Last April, another 6.8-magnitude quake struck in Shan state on the borders with Thailand and Laos, leaving 70 people dead.

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