A Note About the Myanmar Earthquake

6.6 Magnitude Quake in Northern Burma Felt as Far Away as Bangkok

By Dave Fox

I flew home to Singapore 10 days ago from Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), and was saddened to hear a few hours ago that a major earthquake struck 60 kilometers northwest of the city this morning.

As of right now (three hours after the quake), news seems to be coming slowly out of the region. CNN and the BBC have data about the quake’s magnitude, but have reported little information so far about damage or injuries.

I learned of the quake almost instantly from my friend, Beth Whitman, a travel writer who felt it in Bangkok. I was on the Singapore subway when I read her Facebook post: “I think we’re having an earthquake in Bangkok. My hotel room on the 19th floor is rolling like the ocean.” A few minutes later, she added, “Something just happened because the plants in my room were swaying as well as the construction crane across the street. But nothing noticeable in the city and no one running for exits.”

It’s jarring to think that ten days ago, I was so close to where the epicenter was this morning.

Fifty years ago, Myanmar was one of Asia’s wealthiest nations. Today, it is one of the poorest. Its infrastructure – everything from electricity to roads to communications to building construction – is wobbly at best.

If you know people who are traveling in Myanmar and are concerned about them, please keep in mind if you don’t hear from them right away that on the best of days, communication with the outside world can be more challenging there than what most of us are used to. If you are not able to reach friends or family there via e-mail, Skype, etc., keep in mind that they could be fine, but unable to get a stable Internet signal at the moment.

A few days ago, I began a series of articles about my trip to Burma, which I’ve been planning to continue throughout this month. Once we know more about how serious the damage is, I’ll decide whether it’s still appropriate to do that right now.

In the meantime, please keep the Burmese people in your thoughts. They’ve suffered a lot in the last few years. It is sad to know that just as their political situation has started improving, they now must contend with the aftermath of a major earthquake.

Published on Sunday, November 11, 2012

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