A strong 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.

The US Geological Society reported a 5.8-magnitude aftershock later Sunday, but there were no initial reports of new damage or casualties.

No casualties or major damage were reported in the nearest major population centre, Myanmar’s second-biggest city of Mandalay, about 117 kilometres south of the quake’s epicentre near the town of Shwebo.

Smaller towns closer to the quake’s epicentre were worse-hit.

An official from Myanmar’s Meteorological Department said the magnitude-6.8 quake struck at 7.42 a.m. local time.

The biggest single death toll was reported by a local administrative officer in Sintku township on the Irrawaddy River near the quake’s epicentre who told The Associated Press that six people had died there and another 11 were injured.

According to news reports, several people died when a bridge under construction across the Irrawaddy River collapsed east of Shwebo.

The website of Weekly Eleven magazine said four people were killed and 25 injured when the bridge, which was 80 per cent finished, fell. The local government announced a toll of two dead and 16 injured. All of the victims appeared to be workers.

Weekly Eleven also said two monasteries in Kyaukmyaung collapsed, killing two people.

A report on state television MRTV about eight hours after the quake and two aftershocks struck said three people had died, 29 were injured and four were missing in several locations.

“This is the worst earthquake I felt in my entire life,” Soe Soe, a 52-year-old Shwebo resident, told The Associated Press by phone.

She said that the huge concrete gate of a local monastery collapsed and that several sculptures from another pagoda in the town were damaged.

Other damage was reported in Mogok, a major gem mining area just east of the quake’s epicentre. Temples were damaged there, as were some abandoned mines.

“Landslides occurred at some old ruby mines, but there were no casualties because these are old mines,” Sein Win, a Mogok resident, said by phone.


Deadly quake collapses bridge, mine in Myanmar November 12, 2012

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