According to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey, an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck northeastern Myanmar Thursday night, at about 8:25 p.m. local time. (The magnitude was originally reported as 7.0, but has since been downgraded.) The quake occurred at a depth of about six miles, though initial reports said that it occurred much deeper, at a depth of 142.5 miles. The epicenter is near the Thai and Laotian borders, about 55 miles from Chiang Rai, Thailand.
One death was reported in Thailand, where, according to Thai television, a 55-year-old woman died in the town of Mae Sai when a wall collapsed on her while she was sleeping.
According to Reuters, the quake struck in "a sparsely populated, hilly area" often called the Golden Triangle, which is "a traditional source of illicit opium." There are no reports yet of damages or injuries in Myanmar, although as the Associated Press points out, "communications, even in the best of times, are difficult" in that region, and "the country's military-controlled government also tightly controls information."
The AP cites a USGS prediction that given the strength and depth of the quake, as many as 600,000 people may have felt shaking "anywhere from strong to violent," and that "since buildings in the area are considered vulnerable, moderate to very heavy damage could be expected."
"The population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking," said a report from the USGS, "though some resistant structures exist."
In Bangkok, some 500 miles away, buildings swayed, and there were accounts of "smoke rising from nearby buildings and people running in the streets." Meanwhile, in Hanoi, Vietnam, people felt tremors, and were reportedly evacuated from tall buildings, as seen in the picture above.
A second quake, of magnitude 4.8, was reported about half an hour later.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has said that the quake was "located too far inland and too deep inside the earth to generate a tsunami in the Indian Ocean."
CNN notes that the quake was "significantly less powerful" than the one that struck Japan earlier this month, though it was "roughly comparable" in size and depth to the quake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.