YANGON, Myanmar — A strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck northern Myanmar on Sunday, collapsing a bridge and a gold mine, damaging several old Buddhist pagodas, and leaving as many as 12 people feared dead.
A slow release of official information left the actual extent of the damage unclear after Sunday morning’s strong quake. Myanmar has a poor official disaster-response system, despite having lost upward of 140,000 people to a devastating cyclone in 2008.
Myanmar’s second-biggest city, Mandalay, reported no casualties or major damage as the nearest major population center to the main quake. Mandalay lies about 72 miles south of the quake’s epicenter near the town of Shwebo.
Smaller towns closer to the main quake’s epicenter were hit harder.
The area surrounding the epicenter is underdeveloped, and casualty reports were coming in piecemeal, mostly from local media. The region is a center for mining of minerals and gemstones, and several mines were reported to have collapsed.
The evening news on state television showed Vice President Sai Maul Hkam visiting the town of Thabeikyin, where the report said damage included 102 homes, 21 religious buildings, 48 government offices, and four schools.
The town, a gold-mining center, is near the quake’s epicenter and had casualties of 3 dead and 35 injured. The report brought total officially confirmed casualties to 6 killed and 64 injured.
Independently compiled tallies suggested a death toll of about a dozen.
An official from Myanmar’s Meteorological Department said the quake struck at 7:42 a.m. local time.
The US Geological Society reported a 5.8-magnitude aftershock later Sunday, but there were no initial reports of new damage or casualties.