A strong and shallow earthquake rattled northern Thailand on Monday afternoon, shaking tall buildings in Bangkok hundreds of kilometers to the south, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
People were evacuated from the terminal of the main airport in Chiang Rai, a northern Thai city near the epicenter of the 6.0-magnitude temblor.
Pieces of the building's ceiling fell, but there was no damage to the runway or flight disruptions, airport General Manager Damrong Klongakara said. No one was hurt at the airport, but Damrong said the terminal and its roof were still being checked for further damage.
There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, although Chiang Rai residents said they had seen cracked building facades, broken shop windows and damage to roads.
An official said power had been cut in Phan district, where the epicenter was.
"So far there are no reports of injured or dead," said Manat Khamtai, head of the Disaster Mitigation Department in Chiang Rai province. "In Phan there's a report that a school building has been cracked and the power is still out across the district.”
As darkness fell another official warned residents in the province to brace for aftershocks.
The U.S. Geological Survey
said the epicenter was 9 kilometers south of Mae Lao, Thailand, and 27 kilometers southwest of Chiang Rai. Shaking was felt in Bangkok, 800 kilometers south of Chiang Rai.
The quake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 7.4 kilometers. Shallow quakes are generally felt more widely.
Southeast Asia is seismically active and quakes are often felt in surrounding nations. Major earthquakes are rare in Thailand, although tremors often strike the north of the country.
In recent times, quakes centered in the country have been less severe than those in other Southeast Asian nations, such as Indonesia, and Burma -- also known as Myanmar.
VOA English radio host Sarah Williams interviewed VOA Bangkok correspondent Steve Herman.
“We felt it (the earthquake) here in Bangkok," Herman said, speaking from his home. " I’m on the 18th
floor of a 30-story building and I immediately thought, ‘Oh, it must be an earthquake.’ … It’s the first earthquake I’ve experienced in Thailand and I actually started to feel a bit queasy."
Herman said the earthquake "continued shaking for about a minute.”
He said there were no reports of damage in Bangkok. However, a VOA correspondent in Rangoon, the capital of Burma, reported that the quake could be felt in Rangoon and the electricity went out there.
The area where the earthquake struck is a remote mountain retreat popular with foreign tourists near the border with Burma and Laos.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.