By Naw Noreen
At least 41 people are now confirmed dead after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Burma’s Shan state yesterday evening, a Burmese government official has said.
As of midnight last night the death toll had reached 37, but the official in the border town of Tachilek said that was likely to rise. A government “casualties report” obtained by DVB show that the figure reached 41 as of 9am local time today.
“More bodies are being found this morning and the death toll is estimated at over 40. We are unable to contact [people at the site] – all communications are down,” he said.
The quake struck six miles beneath ground close to the Shan town of Tarlay, around 20 miles from Tachilek, although tremors were felt as far afield as Hanoi, Bangkok and parts of southwestern China.
A 52-year-old woman in the Thai town of Mae Sai, across the border from Tachilek, was killed after a wall in her house collapsed.
The official said that over 45 buildings, including government property and a police station, were “destroyed”.
In Tachilek, one child and an army lance corporal identified as Htun Win, were killed and about nine people left injured. Five Buddhist monasteries in the town were also destroyed.
The hospital in Tarlay is reportedly struggling to cope with the influx of patients and medical supplies are running low. Moreover a main bridge between Tarlay and Tachilek was damaged, meaning victims cannot be transferred.
The quake struck 60 miles north of Chiang Rai and 150 miles north-northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city and a popular tourist destination. Tall buildings shuddered in Bangkok during the tremor.
No tsunami warning was issued after the quake as US seismologists said it was too far inland to generate a devastating wave in the Indian Ocean.
It comes just two weeks after the devastating earthquake in northeastern Japan, in which 10,000 have so far been confirmed dead and nearly 20,000 more unaccounted for.