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Patients at Chiang Rai hospital are treated on the ground after they were evacuated from a hospital building following an earthquake in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Thursday, 24 March AP Photo via AP Photo

More than 65 killed after earthquake strikes Burma

Around 111 people reported to be injured in quake, which caused buildings – including monasteries – to collapse.

MORE THAN 65 people have been killed in an earthquake that struck Burma yesterday.

The quake hit at around 1.55pm GMT, and measured -6.8 on the Richter Scale.

People in the Thai capital Bangkok, some 800km away, and Vietnamese capital Hanoi reported feeling the quake. Reports yesterday said there were two earthquakes but the US Geological Survey now says there was one quake.

The Press Association reported that Burma state radio said 65 people had been killed and 111 injured in the quake, with 244 houses, 14 Buddhist monasteries and nine government buildings damaged.

An official from the UN’s World Food Programme said there are many casualties and serious damage in Mong Lin village, five miles from Tachileik.

UN officials said medicine would be sent to the affected areas as soon as possible, along with an assessment team in co-operation with the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

Most of rural Burma is underdeveloped, with poor communications and other infrastructure, and minimal rescue and relief capacity.

It has  been reported that cracks are visible in roads, and that five monasteries and 35 buildings in the town of Tarlay had collapsed. Damaged roads have been making rescue efforts difficult.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported that 15 houses collapsed in the town of Tarlay, and another two people were killed in Tachileik, including a 4-year-old boy.

In Mae Sai in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, one woman was killed when a wall fell on her, according to Thai police. As a precaution for aftershocks, a relief center was being set up Friday in Mae Sai.

Somchai Hatayatanti, the governor of Chiang Rai province, said dozens of people suffered minor injuries on the Thai side of the border. Cracks were found in buildings in downtown Chiang Rai city, about 90 kms (55 miles) from the epicenter, and the tops of the spires fell off from at least two Buddhist temples.

Burma is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and most of its rural areas are 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.

- Additional reporting AP

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