Burma, officially known as the Union of Myanmar, has been hit with dual earthquakes in rural areas of the country. Image: Flickr / martinluff / CC-BY-ND

At 13:55 GMT Thursday, double earthquakes hit Burma, officially known as the Union of Myanmar. The 6.8 and 4.8 magnitude earthquakes occurred close to Myanmar’s border with China and Thailand. The earthquakes were too far inland to cause major tsunamis.

Dual earthquakes in Myanmar

The Union of Myanmar had two major earthquakes on Thursday, centered a few miles outside Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district. Both earthquakes were relatively shallow, about six miles deep. News sources in China and Thailand have reported that the quake was felt in Bangkok and Hanoi. The areas where the earthquakes were centered were relatively remote and sparsely populated. Thus far, only one death from a roof collapse in Thailand has been reported.

No danger of tsunami from earthquake

Though Myanmar is located close to the ocean, these earthquakes are not likely to cause a tsunami. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a statement that the quake is too far inland to warrant a tsunami warning. In order to cause a tsunami, an earthquake must be centered under the ocean or be very close to shore. This is the third major natural disaster to strike Myanmar in the last four years; there were powerful cyclones in 2008 and 2010. Both of those disasters left hundreds of thousands either dead or homeless.

Locked down communications

The government of Myanmar has, in the last few months, been restricting access to the internet, voice-over telephone IP services and external press services. This communication lockdown is making it especially difficult to get first-person reports of the damage and injuries the earthquake has caused. The country has not requested the help of aid agencies, but if they are allowed into the country, this communications lockdown could make offering assistance much more difficult. The country has been locking down communications, seemingly, in an effort to block information about the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. The government has been shutting down internet cafes and closing off outside phone services — anything not owned by the government. This lockdown of communications has not been officially discussed by the government, but in light of the earthquake, the government may be forced to either allow outside reporters in or offer explanations for the communications lockdown.

Sources

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/24/myanmar.quake/index.html?npt=NP1
Digital Trends: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/burma-bans-skype-severing-global-communication/

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