Earthquake damages Bagan's World Heritage Site hopes
MYANMAR took stock of toppled spires and crumbling temple walls in the archaeological tourism city of Bagan in its central region after a powerful earthquake hit a town about 30km away on Wednesday evening, killing at least three people.
The 6.8-magnitude temblor at Chauk in the Magwe region was felt beyond Myanmar's borders, including in Bangkok and Dhaka, reported The Myanmar Times daily.
Residents in the capital Naypyidaw, some 270km south of Bagan, also felt the seismic upheaval.
According to the government, the earthquake killed two girls and a man in villages in the Magwe region.
The Ministry of Information said at mid-day yesterday that 185 ancient pagodas, stupas and temples in Bagan, a popular tourist draw in the Mandalay region, were damaged by the quake.
There are some 2,500 Buddhist monuments in Bagan, which served as the capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th century to the 13th century, as it unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar.
Well-known structures such as the Sulamani, Dhammayangyi and Pya That Gyi temples are among the victims of the earthquake, putting Myanmar's bid to get Bagan recognised as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in jeopardy.
Teams of government-dispatched engineers and architects were still collecting data on the destruction yesterday.
"We will make a renovation plan," Arkar Kyaw, deputy director of Myanmar's Culture Ministry, told Agence France-Presse, adding that the government is working directly with Unesco.