Another quake in north Thailand, no major damage reported

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2011 10:53 PM

By Panumet Tanraksa

CHIANG MAI, Thailand (Reuters) - An estimated 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit northern Thailand on Friday, a day after a bigger quake caused panic in several Southeast Asian countries, but local authorities reported little damage.

"We are looking to see if there was any additional damage after another quake this morning at around 7 a.m. (0000 GMT)," Somchai Hatyatanti, governor of Chiang Rai province, told Reuters by phone.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Myanmar near the border with northern Thailand on Thursday and was felt as far away as the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. One woman died.

Several earthquakes of magnitudes 5 to as high as 7 have hit northern Myanmar and Thailand in the past 15 years, but damage and casualties have been limited.

Governor Somchai reported minor damage to four Buddhist pagodas in his province.

"The telephone connection in some areas was lost and has not been restored, so we're still sending people out to check for damage but it may take time to hear from some places," he said.

A hospital in Mae Sai, the biggest Thai town close to the epicentre, said it had not received any patients after Thursday's earthquake. Power was briefly knocked out.

Police in Mae Sai said a woman had been killed there when the wall of her house collapsed. Reports of a small number of deaths in Myanmar could not be confirmed immediately.

Thursday's quake was centred 111 km (69 miles) north of Chiang Rai in a sparsely populated, hilly area that forms part of the "Golden Triangle," infamous for the cultivation of illicit opium and where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.

The initial quake was 6.2 miles below the surface.

Vibul Sguanpong, Director General of Thailand's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said there had been dozens of aftershocks.

"The public should follow the news closely and we urge those in very old houses or tall, old buildings near the northern border with Myanmar to check for cracks and other signs of damage, and consider leaving for the next two days while aftershocks are likely," he said.

(Reporting by Arada Kultawanich, Ambika Ahuja and Martin Petty in Bangkok, and Aung Hla Tun in Yangon; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)