Deadly earthquake in the border area of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos

Although the tragedy in Japan is taking all attention away from other disasters in the world, wants to make clear that the Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, China border M 7.2 earthquake which occurred in the evening of March 24, 2011 is a very important and deadly earthquake.
So far the official earthquake toll (Myanmar/Burma state-run media) still stands at 74 with 111 people injured.
Unofficial but very precise local reports are mentioning 104 fatalities.
On Sunday 27/03, unofficial reports are mentioning already more than 150 dead.

This article is Part 1 and is continued in Part 2 - Click here to read part 2
UPDATE 12:00 UTC : Official Myanmar MRTV3 has published a second report, not mentioning updated numbers of damage, fatalities and injured, but giving an extensive report of some Myanmar generals who went to Tashileik to inspect the earthquake hit area. The full report can read here


UPDATE 09:30 UTC : First video of the damaged Myanmar earthquake area (Source : Mizzima).
As you will see, the damage is very substantial (as might have been expected from a 7.2 shallow strike-slip earthquake)

UPDATE 09:21 UTC : Unofficial earthquake death toll more than 150. The aid arrives very slowly in the damaged area. (source : Mizzima)

UPDATE 08:23 UTC : Teraphan Ornthammarath, Ph.D. and Seismic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Scientist working at the Regional Integrated Multi Hazard Early Warning for Africa and Asia is describing the origin of the earthquake as follows :
The  fault that originated this earthquake is the Nam Ma fault originating from Laos to Myanmar.
It was described in Lacassin et al. (1998) that this fault marked the fossil of fault offset in Mekong river (20.80N, 100.45E).
There was no big earthquake since 1912 from this fault.

Myanmar March 24 earthquake 2011, Tarlay was one of the villages which was hardest hit by the violent shaking - Picture courtesy

UPDATE 01:13 UTC : World Vision reports : "As we go further in the affected areas, we see collapsed houses, broken roads, destroyed monasteries and government buildings.
The most urgent needs now are food, water, basic first aid supplies and temporary shelters since it has started raining"

UPDATE 27/03 - 01:12 UTC : Initial Government reports estimate over USD 4 million worth of damage.

UPDATE 18:32 UTC : The Ta Lur bridge that links Tachilek and Keng Tung collapsed partly on Thursday night during the earthquake. Travelers now use ferries to cross the Nam Lein River and pick up a ride with another vehicle on the other side.

UPDATE 18:27 UTC : Click here to view an extremely detailed map compiled by WFP Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch.

UPDATE 18:16 UTC : In Kyakuni village an undefined number of people was killed when the church collapsed while they were attending a Bible class.

UPDATE 18:04 UTC : One of our readers told us that based on local opposition group (see link below in the comment section) information from March 25 has the following toll of the earthquake : Talerh (Talay) : 50 dead and 100 injured, Monglane : 60 dead and 100 injured, Jakuni : 20 dead and 30 injured = Total 130 dead and 230 injured ! We warn our readers however that these numbers are coming  from opposition groups active in the area.

UPDATE 17:49 UTC : Currently, UNICEF, World Vision, the Red Cross and international aid groups are carrying out rescue operations in the area

UPDATE 17:47 UTC : According to local information, 47 people died in the Tarlay (Ta Lur) area; 22 in Kyakuni village in Mong Yaung Township; 29 the Mong Lin area, 3 in Tachilek and 3 in Naryaun.

UPDATE 17:45 UTC : Unofficial but very precise local reports are mentioning 104 fatalities. Addiotionally on the death toll, residents in Tarlay are still reporting missing people.

UPDATE 12:57 UTC : According to Myanmar authorities on March 26, the M 7.2 earthquake that toppled homes in northeastern Myanmar has left 73 Myanmar people dead and 125 others injured as of Friday night

UPDATE 12:15 UTC : Chinese President Hu Jintao has delivered a message of condolences to his Myanmar counterpart U Thein Sein over the losses of life and property inflicted by a strong earthquake.

UPDATE 26/03 - 09:46 UTC : The epicenter area and surrounding region has been hit by an enormous number of aftershocks. The last major one was a 4.8 magnitude aftershock at a depth of 10 km.

UPDATE 16:28 UTC : This is the message we could pick up from the local Myanmar media :
Strong earthquake of magnitude 7.0 Richter Scale hit near Loimwe, 35 miles Southeast of Kengtung.
224 houses and one 6-room attached quarters, 11 religious buildings and 9 public office buildings destroyed in Tachilek, Tar Lay and nearby villages of Nar Yaung, Mong Lin, Kyakuni and Mong Koe village-tracts.


UPDATE 15:31 UTC : The earthquake damaged more than 5,000 houses and affected a population of 6,560 in 23 towns and villages in Yunnan, China
A seven-year-old Myanmar girl had a fracture in her elbow after falling from a bunk bed.
The Chinese border was approx. 85 km from the epicenter !!


UPDATE 14:51 UTC : Kengtung, the city which has been been damaged too, has an airport, a very important asset in the Search and Rescue and aid efforts.

UPDATE 14:49 UTC : A rural hospital in Tarlay, Myanmar was damaged.  Tarlay Bridge connecting Tachileik and Kengtung also sustains some damages and is currently impassable.

UPDATE 14:47 UTC : The official figure of casualties currently stands at 65 deaths and 111 injuries.

UPDATE 11:21 UTC : The Myanmar seismological service has recorded 6 aftershocks of M 5.0 or more and 56 aftershocks which were smaller than M 5.0. They expect that the aftershocks would continue at least for 1 week, but (like everywhere else in the world) will be gradually getting smaller (although an even more powerful earthquake can never be excluded).


UPDATE 10:57 UTC : Myanmar update : 390 houses, 14 monasteries and 9 government buildings were destroyed.
Death toll and number of injured remains as we have reported it at 08:08 UTC below.

UPDATE 10:13 UTC : Although the international press does not talk about it, we have to report that the epicenter area has continuous aftershocks since the mainshock from yesterday evening.

UPDATE 08:08 UTC : The death toll of  Myanmar's Thursday earthquake has risen to 65 with 111 injured so far, official sources said on Friday afternoon (local time)
Another Myanmar official said 74 people were killed and 110 were injured in five areas close to the epicenter. More than 240 buildings had

Landscape in Chiang Rai Thailand - Panoramio picture from -

UPDATE 15/03 - 05:57 UTC :
There are reports of 41 killed and 48 injured, also reports of at least 60 dead, and other reports that it killed at least 27 people in northeast Myanmar and one in Thailand, officials said on Friday. At least 27 people died and 50 were injured in Tali, the village nearest the epicentre in northeastern Myanmar, officials said. "We got information that the worst area was Tali own in eastern Shan state," said a provincial official. "The casualties will be higher when we can update them," the official said in a telephone interview. Tali is just 24 km from the Thai-Myanmar border town of Tachilek. At least two villages in Tachilek sustained serious damage in the quake, according to World Vision.

Because of the state of the area, it is unlikely that we will get accurate death tolls, but we will attempt to get as much information as possible. The most accurate death toll at the moment, is somewhere between 40-60 dead, and at least 90 injured in Myanmar. 1 dead in Thailand in Mae Sai. We expect more damage and casualties to be reported soon, once some more remote towns have information given.

More than 240 buildings have collapsed. "The death toll has increased to more than 60 now from those areas including Tarlay, Mine Lin and Tachileik townships," said the official. "About 90 people were injured from those areas. The officials are still trying to reach some more affected areas. There are some places we cannot reach yet." This is according to an interviewed person on location.

UPDATE 15/03 - 00:57 UTC : A few minutes ago another aftershock of M 5.0 at a depth of 10 km struck the border area. The epicenter was located in the same area than the mainshock.

UPDATE 23:41 UTC : We expect more news from the epicenter area the next few hours as it is now daylight in the earthquake areas.

UPDATE 23:39 UTC : People living near the Srinagarind Dam, Thailand were afraid that the dam was almost broken.  The power company did publish a CCTV live image  from the dam, which was not damaged at all.

UPDATE 23:21 UTC : We do advise our readers to read the many comments from people who experienced the shaking at the bottom of this article.

UPDATE 23:18 UTC : 2 Burmese workers have been killed by a collapsing crane, which was active in a building construction.

UPDATE 23:10 UTC : The Thai authorities have reported that the dams in the area have been inspected and that their was NO damage revealed.

UPDATE 23:08 UTC : The temple of Wat Phumin in Nai Wiang has been damaged by the 7.2 earthquake.  The city of Nan's most famous Wat is renowned for its cruciform ubosoth which was constructed in 1596 and restored during the reign of Chao Ananta Vora Ritthi Det (1867-1875).

UPDATE 22:57 UTC : The China border area is now examined by Chinese Rescue forces. We do not expect a lot of damage in this area because the distance from the epicenter to the border is at least 86 km, which is a lot for a shallow earthquake.

UPDATE 22:45 UTC : The local seismological agencies in China are reporting a magnitude of 7.2 (versus 6.8 by USGS). Following the very well trained Chinese Seismological Bureau, the epicenter should be located in Meng Paya in Myanmar. The focal depth (hypocenter) has been recorded at a depth of 20 km.

UPDATE 22:33 UTC : The people  living in the 4 country border area will have to sleep outside their houses, as it is too risky to sleep inside. Rumors about a big aftershock are completely stupid. There will of course be aftershocks but NOBODY can predict the magnitude of aftershocks.

UPDATE 18:16 UTC :
China Central Television quoted the latest news from Myanmar, said Myanmar 24 days occurred 7.2 magnitude earthquake caused landslides in the country Shan State and other geological disasters, has resulted in at least 10 people were killed.

UPDATE 18:13 UTC :
Reporting from China:
Daluo border line border police station : earthquake strongly felt, with cracked houses.
Mengla Bureau reported: In Mengla City, a wall collapse occurred.
In the city of Pu'er : cracked houses in the urban areas.
In Daluo, old cracks widened in houses, but no major damage.

Remember, there are 4 countries involved - Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and China.

UPDATE 18:10 UTC :
Homes and at least one bridge were damaged in several villages along Myanmar's borders with Thailand and Laos, according to residents who spoke to an aid agency.
Cracks spread in the foundations of some buildings in the province surrounding the city of Chiang Rai, 90 kilometers from the epicenter. The spires fell off two pagodas.


UPDATE 17:25 UTC : Mae Sai, right by the epicenter, is reporting an intensity of VI - generally corresponding to minor damage.

UPDATE 17:16 UTC : The reports from the epicentral area still only report 1 dead (Police said a 53-year-old woman in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, had been killed when one wall of her house collapsed. Hospital officials said there were no other deaths or injuries reported.). Post Today, a Thai newspaper, reports that Phumin Wat, a famous temple, has minor damage, including cracks through walls. In addition, the Chinese have sent 15 people from Yunnan Seismological Bureau to survey possible damage in Southern Yunnan Province.

UPDATE 16:38 UTC : Although not to much is known at the moment from the area close to the epicenter and although the magnitude  is finally not as severe as initially reported by the seismological services, this is till a VERY DANGEROUS and exceptionally strong earthquake for the area.

UPDATE 16:29 UTC : Also the search and rescue services of Yunnan China are in big alert and are examining the border region for eventual damage, injured or killed people.

UPDATE 16:26 UTC : Various aftershocks are rattling the greater epicenter area.

UPDATE 16:05 UTC : One of our readers (Mike Corney) is reporting out of Laos that another tremor was felt in Luang Nam Tha (Laos)

UPDATE 16:02 UTC : Based on the USGS epicenter location, GDACS calculated  the number of people living in the area. Here are their results :
7 people are living within a radius of 1 km around the epicenter
219 people are living within a radius of 2 km around the epicenter
9,128 people are living within a radius of 5 km around the epicenter
54,653 people are living within a radius of 10 km around the epicenter
71,001 people are living within a radius of 20 km around the epicenter
166,966 people are living within a radius of 50 km around the epicenter
1,101,180 people are living within a radius of 100 km around the epicenter
4,955,747 people are living within a radius of 200 km around the epicenter

UPDATE 15:57 UTC : Mai Sai, which is the closest Thai point to the epicenter (USGS epicenter location) is approx. 35 km from the Myanmar epicenter. The epicenter itself is located in a wilderness area with a number of smaller settlements. Mai Sai reported a violent shaking.

UPDATE 15:52 UTC : It will take a lot of time (at least 10 to 12 hours) before we will receive reports out of Myanmar (Burma) and Laos as these are countries which have almost NO independent press (which means that we will have to wait for reports coming from the authorities). We are sure that they will do their utmost best to reach the epicenter area villages.

UPDATE 15:45 UTC : A twitter message coming from Mae Sai, Chiang Rai says : #Quake so strong that she felt nausea#.

UPDATE 15:38 UTC : The earthquake struck during the evening hours (after darkness), which makes it more difficult to find out the damage and eventual fatalities, especially in remote places. Additionally NO power means even more misery.

UPDATE 15:34 UTC : Telecommunications and power are down in some northern Thai locations.

UPDATE 15:32 UTC : Many people have reported the massive earthquake on twitter, especially those living or working in in high-rise buildings in Bangkok,  Asoke, Sathorn, Sukhumvit and in other states that feel the vibration clearly.

UPDATE 15:21 UTC : Bangkok is far out of the epicenter (772 km) area and is doing well.

UPDATE 15:19 UTC : The THAI PRESS reports that the shaking lasted for 3 minutes (a bad sign)

UPDATE 15:14 UTC : First fatality has been recorded in Chiang Rai (Thailand). The wall collapsed due to the earthquake.

UPDATE 15:11 UTC : Earthquake-Report is bringing you the news as it is developing. This kind of reporting means that we have to take into account that some important parameters may include uncertainties like Magnitude, Depth and exact epicenter location can change within minutes and even hours. By all means this earthquake is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, even with the decreased magnitude..

UPDATE 15:05 UTC : This is the full WAPMERR estimate which was still based on the Magnitude 7.0 (which has been lowered to 6.8 afterwards).
Date: 2011/03/24 13:55:12.4
Region: Myanmar
Magnitude:  M 7.0
Latitude:  20.7 N
Longitude:  99.95 E
Depth (km):  10.0
Source:  NEI
Injured Exp. min/max:  1000 / 5000
Fatalities Exp. min/max: 400 / 3000

The original magnitude M(USGS) has been reduced to M(USGS)6.8, GFZ estimates M6.5 (good news).
The depth estimated vary from 10 (USGS) to 38 (GFZ). (We hope GFZ is right, which will decrease the danger fundamentally)
Therefore, the casualty numbers are uncertain, but it is most likely a serious case.
The nearest city is Viangarau at 30 km from the epicenter.
There are numerous settlements in the vicinity but they are all small.

There is no guarantee that this loss estimate is correct.
Although we try to take error sources into account, the true losses
may be outside our estimated errors.
WAPMERR is not responsible for any damage or loss resulting from the use of the information presented in this email and on its website.
Link to the WAPMERR website

UPDATE 14:59 UTC : Historic earthquakes in the area can predict the level of damage and fatalities to be expected.

These are James Daniell CATDAT findings for the greater area (None of the described earthquakes ever occurred in the current epicenter area, which means that it is difficult to make historic links) :

UPDATE 14:50 UTC : EMSC confirms the magnitude of 6.9 at a depth of 10 km, which is very BAD news for the area.

UPDATE 14:47 UTC : The earthquake struck 50 minutes ago

UPDATE 14:44 UTC : WAPMERR theoretical earthquake damage model expects 400 to 3,000 fatalities and 1,000 to 5,000 injured people + extreme damage.

UPDATE 14:43 UTC : USGS has just decreased his magnitude value to 6.8 at a depth of 10 km. This decrease does NOT make it less dangerous.

UPDATE 14:32 UTC : Based on our experience with the area, this earthquake may be very destructive. The exact location of the epicenter will be decisive how many damage and casualties will be made.

Massive shallow and potentially destructive earthquake in the Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and China area.
GDACS has published a RED earthquake alert which we agree on condition that the hypocenter depth is confirmed

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 7.0 6.8
UTC time : Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 13:55:12 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 08:25:12 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 10 km satellite map + I Did Feel It form
Geo-location(s) :
90 km (56 miles) N (8°) from Chiang Rai, Thailand
168 km (104 miles) SSW (212°) from Yunjinghong, Yunnan, China

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
3-dimensional view of the earthquake area (USGS epicenter location)
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS impact on population map
USGS Seismic hazard map
LIVE SEISMOGRAM (nearest Seismograph station)
GDACS RED Earthquake Alert (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System)

QuakeSOS+ is an iPhone application developed by Armand Vervaeck, the creator and main contributor to Earthquake Report. The Application simplifies immediate group communication to friends and family members (with your exact GPS location) and is constantly feeding the users with Earthquake Report news. Together with your own family and friends, QuakeSOS+ will be your closest earthquake friend. Buying QuakeSOS+ will support the activities of SOS Earthquakes.

a was also created by SOS Earthquakes. makes it easy to let the world know which shaking people have experienced during the earthquake. gives also the opportunity to write some additional text. Filling up the form takes only 1 minute. gives an overview of all the resent earthquakes and let you even go back in time and retrieve earthquakes of a certain date in the past. headlines on twitter
@OnlyQuakeNews : Get all the headlines of our articles + regular updates on ongoing events
@QuakeSOS : news + automatic earthquake notifications of USGS earthquakes of M 4.0 or higher with emphasis to earthquakes in the America's and the Pacific Ocean sphere (4 and up) and a lot of the rest of the world (5 and up). This account was created for our QuakeSOS and QuakeSOS+ iPhone applications
@ShakingEarth : news + automatic earthquake notifications of EMSC earthquakes of M 4.0 or higher with emphasis to earthquakes in European and Asian / Middle East sphere (4 and up) and a lot of the rest of the world (5 and up). This account was originally created to stimulate our Facebook account
@QuakeMaps : news with mapping notifications of ALL earthquakes M 3.0 and higher from all over the world via EMSC and USGS. This account was created for our website


  1. Armand Vervaeck says

    Bob, I will put your information in one of our updates. Thanks again armand

  2. A 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the border areas of Myanmar and Thailand causing demolition of hundreds of building due to which 60 people lost their lives and several others got injured.

    Thai officials said the epicentre of the earthquake was measured 800km away from Bangkok, whereas Myanmar officials fear increase in casualties.

    Earthquake jolts were also felt in the neighboring countries, mainly in Vietnam and China.

    • Armand Vervaeck says

      Kashif, thanks for your comment. Stay tuned as we will bring continuous updates from this earthquake. We are sorry to tell that already more fatalities have been recorded

  3. its seems that worldwide there is a tactonic change going on.. may be it could bring a sequence of earthquak worldwide.. better stay connected with other people so that we would be more aware about any mishap..
    god bless you..

    • Armand Vervaeck says

      NO, this is not the case. Our planet behaves like it does a millions of years. Become a regular reader and you will see that we cover every day earthquakes all over the planet. Nothing special here, but sometimes nature is cruel. We agree

  4. Dear Nancy! We stay at Koh Samui, which is the nearest island to Koh Phangan (20 min by boat). It's all peaceful here, please don't worry! your son probably still has no idea anything happened in myanmar last night.

    • Alice, thank you for comforting words. My son was able to call and let us know he is safe. It was a rotten connection, but I am so relieved.
      Best regards and thanks so much,

  5. @ Nancy

    Dont worry Nancy. Your son is a very long way from the earthquake. He is very far South, and the earthquake has affected the North East of Thailand.

    I think he will not have felt it.


    • Armand Vervaeck says

      Thanks Chrissy for taking over our replies :)).
      I agree - the distance is about 1250 km to the resort of your son, Nancy. The danger area is max. 50 to 100 km around the epicenter. (Armand)
      Chrissy can join us as a volunteer, you are welcome 🙂

    • Thank you friends from afar for helping me sort this out. I still have not made contact with my son, but your descriptions of his location compared to where this event occurred have made me feel much better.
      Many many thanks to you! -Nancy

  6. My son is in Ko Phanagn- I can't reach him. Should I worry that he would have been affected in this area. I don't know the region and he is vacationing at Ocean Rock.
    Thanks for any info someone can provide.
    Worried Mom