World

3 dead, pagodas damaged in Myanmar quake

A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Myanmar yesterday, killing at least three people and damaging around 60 pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan, officials said.

The quake was also felt across neighbouring Thailand, India and Bangladesh, reported AFP.

Two girls, aged 7 and 15, were killed in the Magway region where the quake struck at about 5pm local time (6.30pm Singapore time), according to Myanmar's Ministry of Information.

A collapsed building in a nearby town also killed a 22-year-old man and injured one woman, local police told AFP.

A local official reported heavy damage to several temples in Bagan - Myanmar's most famous archaeological site and a major tourist destination about 30km north of the quake's epicentre.

"About 60 pagodas in Bagan were damaged. Some were seriously damaged," said Mr Aung Kyaw, the director of Bagan's culture department.

A tourist police officer from Bagan confirmed the damage and said a Spanish tourist was slightly hurt when the quake knocked her from the temple where she was watching the sunset.

Tourists flock daily to the 2,500 temples, which were built between the 10th and 14th centuries.

Myanmar, which has opened its doors to a rising tide of visitors since emerging from junta rule in 2011, is eager to see the ancient capital designated as a Unesco world heritage site.

The earthquake caused high-rise buildings in Myanmar's largest city Yangon to sway, as well as those in Bangkok and Kolkata in India.

"Services of the underground railway have been suspended fearing aftershocks of the quake," Kolkata Metro Railway spokesman Indrani Banerjee told AFP.

The quake was also felt throughout south and south-western Bangladesh, close to the border with Myanmar.

At least 20 people were injured as workers tried to flee a building in the Savar industrial district outside Dhaka, ATN Bangla television reported.

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