YANGON –– A strong earthquake has struck Myanmar, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reports, with shaking felt across the region.
The 6.9 magnitude quake took place at a depth of around 140 kilometres, north-west of Mandalay. There were no initial reports of any fatalities.
The tremor could be felt in the north-east Indian state of Assam, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are staying.
The royal couple, who are staying in a national park, were unharmed.
People in Myanmar’s main city, Yangon, in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, and in Kolkata in India fled buildings in panic when the tremor struck.
Tremors are relatively common in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). This earthquake occurred at intermediate depth, according to the USGS, which means it took place within the Indian tectonic plate as it subducts beneath Eurasia.
While such earthquakes may be felt at the Earth’s surface, they are less likely to cause severe damage.
An Associated Press news agency reporter in Yangon reported seeing a seven-storey hospital shake during Wednesday’s two-minute quake, causing staff and patients to flee the building.
Many of Myanmar’s outlying areas have inadequate communications and infrastructure, including the area where the earthquake hit.
The Chinese official Xinhua news agency said strong tremors were also felt in Tibet, with many residents of Lhasa drawn out on the streets.
Shaking was experienced in the Assam capital Guwahati, where wall-mounted television sets at a local TV station were reported to have been sent crashing to the ground.
The British royal party have been visiting Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
“We felt the tremor very strongly, but all is fine,’’ British Deputy High Commissioner Scott Furssedonn-Wood, who is staying in the same jungle resort as the royal couple, was quoted by AP as saying.
The royal couple are spending Wednesday night in the park and will travel to neighbouring Bhutan on Thursday.
An earthquake measuring 6.7 magnitude hit north-east India in January, near its borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh, killing at least nine people.
In March 2011, at least 75 people died when a powerful earthquake hit Myanmar near the borders with Laos and Thailand.