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Magnitude 6.9 quake hits northern Myanmar

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Myanmar was struck by a magnitude 6.9 quake on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey reported, with tremors felt around the region, including in neighbouring India and China.

[YANGON] Myanmar was struck by a magnitude 6.9 quake on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey reported, with tremors felt around the region, including in neighbouring India and China.

The quake, which was 134 kilometres (214 miles) deep, hit some 396 kilometres north northwest of the capital Naypyidaw, according to the USGS.

Much of Myanmar's outlying provinces have poor communications infrastructure, including the region where the earthquake hit.

However there were no immediate reports of casualties.

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A lawmaker from Mawlite in Sagaing region, around 100 kilometres away from the epicentre, told AFP she felt rough tremors that lasted for several minutes.

"There may be some destruction and damage. But it's difficult to know the (extent) of destruction at night time," Cho Cho Win said, adding that the town does not have many high rise buildings.

Tin Nyo, 67, from Minkin, another township in Sagaing, said it was the strongest earthquake she had ever felt.

"I have never experienced that kind of big earthquake in my lifetime. Although it happened over a short period, it was really rough," she told AFP.

Some people in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital and biggest city, also reported feeling tremors and fled their multi-story apartment buildings in fear.

"We are very frightened. Our building shook... if something happened, we would not know what to do," said Yangon resident Khaing Khaing, who lives on the eighth floor.

In neighbouring India, tremors were felt in the northeastern cities of Kolkata, Shillong, Guwahati and Patnam.

In Kolkata, one of India's biggest cities, startled residents ran out of their houses after the trembling, an AFP reporter said.

"I was inside, working and then suddenly I felt the ground shaking," local resident Chiranjeet Ghosh told television news channels.

"People started yelling 'something is happening, let's get out!' and we immediately rushed out.

"I came out and saw that everyone else around here had already evacuated their homes and poured onto the streets."

Residents in Kolkata also reported seeing cracks appearing in buildings following the quake, while the city's metro was suspended for a few minutes.

Chinese official news agency Xinhua said strong tremors were felt in Tibet, with some residents of Lhasa out on the streets.

Earthquakes are relatively common in Myanmar, though the country has not seen a major quake since 2012.

In November of that year a powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck the centre of the country, killing 26 people and injuring hundreds.

The impoverished Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule, has a strained medical system, especially in its rural states.

But the breakneck pace of development in Myanmar's cities, combined with crumbling infrastructure and poor urban planning, has also made the country's most populous areas vulnerable to earthquakes and other disasters, experts say.

In 2015 severe flooding swept across swaths of Myanmar, including the region where Wednesday's earthquake hit, leaving more than 100 people dead and affecting thousands as rescuers struggled to reach isolated regions.

According to the USGS, six strong earthquakes, of 7.0-magnitude and more, struck between 1930 and 1956 near the Sagaing Fault which runs north to south through the centre of the country.

AFP

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