Myanmar earthquake: Over 70 people dead

Myanmar earthquake: Over 70 people dead
Naypyidaw, Myanmar:  Still pictures of the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that toppled homes in northeastern Myanmar and killed more than 70 people were shown on Myanmar television on Friday.

The pictures showed collapsed houses, cracked roads and other damaged structures in the Tarlay and Tachileik towns in the Shan State near the Thai border.

There were fears on Friday that the toll would mount as conditions in more remote areas became known.

The Thursday night quake, measured at magnitude 6.8 by the US Geological Survey, was centred just north of Tachileik in the Shan State.

It was felt hundreds of miles (kilometres) away in the Thai capital of Bangkok and the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

Myanmar state radio announced on Friday that 73 people had been killed and 111 injured.

It said 390 houses, 14 Buddhist monasteries and nine government buildings were damaged.

Earlier in the day, news broadcasts had put the death toll at 74.

No explanation was given for the decrease.

Significant damage was reported in the villages around Tachileik, including to bridges and roads, which developed massive fissures, complicating relief efforts.

A United Nations official said a small hospital and bridge were damaged in the nearby town of Tarlay, making it difficult to access the town.

On the Thai side of the border, one woman was killed in Mae Sai when a wall fell on her, according to Thai police, but damage was otherwise minimal.

The UN official said medicine would be sent to the affected areas as soon as possible along with an assessment team in cooperation with the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

He said 95,000 people were estimated to live near the quake's epicentre, but it was unknown how many suffered damage from it.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Myanmar's government frowns on giving unauthorised information to the media.

Most of rural Myanmar, one of Asia's poorest countries, is underdeveloped, with poor communications and other infrastructure, and minimal rescue and relief capacity.

The country's military government is also usually reluctant to release information about disasters because it is already sensitive to any criticism.

In 2008, the government delayed reporting on - and asking for help with - devastating Cyclone Nargis, which killed 130,000 people.

The junta was widely criticised for what were called inadequate preparations and a slow response to the disaster.
Story First Published: March 26, 2011 08:40 IST

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