A 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Mawlaik township in Sagaing Region yesterday morning, according to the Myanmar Earthquake Committee.

“The epicentre of the quake was about 110km deep,” said Myanmar Earthquake Committee secretary U Myo Thant. “It is likely that it was caused by the slipping of the Indian and Burma plates. No damage or fatalities have been reported.”

Seismometers, designed to measure earthquakes, are being installed in Magwe, Sagaing and Mandalay regions and Shan and Chin states. The installations began in May. There are 45 seismometers already in place, with 20 more on their way, U Myo Thant said.

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the same area in April, which was followed by a 6.8-magnitude quake near Chauk township, Magwe Region, in August. The latter killed four people and damaged hundreds of ancient temples across central Myanmar.

The west border of Mandalay Region, which is about 10-15km from the Sagaing fault, is overdue for a powerful, damaging earthquake, U Myo Thant said at a forum held on October 22, prior to yesterday’s earthquake. It has been decades since a substantial quake struck the area, he said.

“We cannot guess the time or the magnitude of the earthquake but there were two powerful earthquakes in the area in 1839 and 1956,” he said.

The Sagaing fault is about 1000km long, lodged between the Sagaing hills and the Min Won hills, U Myo Thant said.

“The Myanmar Engineering Society and the Ministry of Construction enacted construction codes in 2012 but most buildings were built before that,” he said. “A 6.5-magnitude earthquake could cause much damage.”

He urged officials to audit buildings to make sure they are sturdy enough to handle an earthquake. Several institutions in Yangon, including the regional government, are planning to check hospitals, schools, universities and public buildings. This could also be done in Mandalay, he suggested.

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/mandalay-upper-myanmar/23324-earthquake-strikes-sagaing-region.html