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Panic in Bangkok after 6.8 quake in Myanmar; 6.2 quake in Italy kills 73

Hundreds of people working in skyscrapers and high-rises in downtown Bangkok took to the streets after a 6.8 eartquake hit central Myanmar later this afternoon, with the shockwave felt all the way to Thailand. Residents in the Sukhumvit Road district of Bangkok evacuated the buildings following the earthquake, with some saying the buildings kept swaying and shaking for long, scary seconds.

“My office is shaking. All my work colleagues stood up,” an office worker on the 22nd floor of Silom Complex wrote on social media at about 5.42 p.m.

The earthquake was felt in other buildings across the Capital, including Ratchadaphisek, Khlong Tan and Khlong Toey areas.

templeThe epicenter of the quake was 143 kilometers west of the city of Meiktila in central Burma at a depth of 84 kilometers. At least one person was killed and scores of buldings,a mong them famed pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan were damaged, according to Myanmar government officials. It was the worst earthquake in the past 4 years, they said to reporters.

“More than eight pagodas in the town collapsed. Two buildings collapsed as well, while some others were cracked. People in the town are still scared,” said Soe Win, a local member of Parliament from Chauk, a riverside town close to the epicenter.

According to the US-based USGS,  more than 41.8 million people across the region may have felt Wednesday’s earthquake, including roughly 1.5 million people who may have experienced strong shaking.

italy2An earlier earthquake caused extreme devastation this morning, this time in central Italy. Hardest hit were towns in the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Marche some 80 to 100 miles northeast of Rome. Some of the towns were destroyed almost completely, with damage to more than 60-70% of their buildings. According to the latest figures, more than 70 people were killed in the 6.2 shallow earthquake, with many more still trapped under the rubble.

The death toll is expected to rise from hour to hour, while search and rescue teams are trying to locate survivors with the help of bulldozers and even by digging with their bare hands. It was the second strong earthquake in the same region, in the past 10 years. In 2009, a 5.8 earthquake devastated the city of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region, killing 308 people.

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