YANGON, Myanmar- The extent of the damage is unclear after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Myanmar today.
The government has been slow to release official information. The area surrounding the epicenter is underdeveloped, and casualty reports have been piecemeal. The region is a center for mining of minerals and gemstones, and several mines are reported to have collapsed. So far, there are reports of as many as 12 dead.
The quake collapsed a bridge and a gold mine and damaged several old Buddhist pagodas. It was followed by a 5.8 aftershock
Damage to centuries-old Buddhist temples is a common result of Myanmar earthquakes, but regarded by the superstitious as a bad omen.
The so-called "umbrella" atop a stupa in one town reportedly crashed down in today's quake. These uppermost parts of the brick domes usually have encased in them relics of the Buddha and small Buddha images, and sometimes jewels. Police are reportedly guarding the relics.