Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Earthquake rescue teams struggle to cope

Burmese rescuers are struggling to help villagers injured or displaced by Sunday’s 6.8-magnitude earthquake near Shwebo, north of Mandalay, which killed at least 13, injured dozens and caused a bridge and mine to collapse, according to a report on Tuesday by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Patients at a local hospital in the town of Thabeikkyin were being treated in tents outside amid fears buildings could be vulnerable to further tremors, the report said.

“We decided not to keep the people inside the hospital building as the quakes have been coming continuously,” a local official told AFP, adding that three local people had been killed, including two children who drowned after the riverbank they were working on collapsed. It was unclear whether these deaths were included in official tallies.

Following the initial tremor, which was felt as far away as Naypyidaw, Chiang Mai and Bangkok, the US Geological Survey recorded two further quakes of 5.8 and 5.6-magnitude along the same fault line.

Villagers in other settlements north of Mandalay told AFP they had yet to see rescue teams.
At Khu Lel village near Sint Ku Township, some 40 buildings were damaged. Residents have reportedly taken shelter in makeshift camps in fields. Again, they reported that no rescue team or supplies had arrived.

The UN’s chief in Rangoon, Ashok Nigam, told AFP that aid stocks were stretched, given the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State where more than 110,000 people have fled their homes due to sectarian violence.

On Monday, Burma’s state media reported that Vice-President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham had visited the earthquake-affected region by helicopter, accompanied by Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Myint Soe, Mandalay Region Chief Minister Ye Myint, and Sagaing Region Chief Minister Tha Aye.

“The Vice-President inspected wreckages due to the earthquake and met with earthquake victims. In meeting with them, the Vice- President said that he was there to inspect damages and wreckages, to provide necessary assistance,” the report said.

He added that the Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Ministry is carrying out relief and rehabilitation tasks in the disaster-hit area in cooperation with the Union Governments, Regional governments and local people.


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