Yangon (AFP) – 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 area where the earthquake hit.
However there were no immediate reports of casualties.
A lawmaker from Mawlite in Sagaing region, some 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, also 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.
In India, tremors were felt in the northeastern cities of Kolkata, Shillong, Guwahati and Patnam.
In Kolkata, one of India’s biggest cities, people spilled out of their houses on to the streets, 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 hit the centre of the country, killing nearly 40 people and injuring hundreds.
The impoverished Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule, has weak infrastructure and a strained medical system, especially in its rural states.
The breakneck pace of development in Myanmar’s cities, combined with crumbling infrastructure and poor urban planning has made the country’s most populous areas more vulnerable to the dangers of earthquakes and other disasters, experts say.
Last November more than 100 people died when a huge landslide in northern Kachin state hit a jade mining region. It took days for authorities to pull the scores of bodies from the rubble.