* Quake shallow but initial reports suggest damage light
* Six people reported dead; no official death toll
* Half-built bridge collapses on Irrawaddy River, workers
By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON, Nov 11 An earthquake struck central
Myanmar on Sunday near its second-biggest city, Mandalay,
killing at least six people, with the death toll likely to rise
as part of an unfinished bridge fell into the Irrawaddy River
and several workers were missing.
The earthquake, put at magnitude 6.8 by the local
meteorological service, struck around 60 km (37 miles) northwest
of Mandalay near the town of Shwebo at 7:41 a.m. (0111 GMT), and
was quite shallow at around 10 km (6 miles) deep.
A police officer in Shwebo said two people had died and 20
had been injured in nearby Kyauk Myaung.
"A house collapsed in Kyauk Myaung. The Radana Thinga
Bridge, still under construction, over the river was badly
damaged. A huge steel beam fell into the river and five workers
went missing," he told Reuters.
State television, the usual mouthpiece for government
statements in Myanmar along with state-run newspapers, said 15
people from the bridge construction site were missing.
It gave no death toll but said a number of religious
buildings and pagodas had been destroyed or damaged.
Media in Myanmar reported minor damage in several places
around Mandalay, including Amarapura, a town popular with
tourists because of its monasteries and the longest teak bridge
in the world. Pagodas had been damaged there, media said.
One local source who declined to be named said at least 10
people were trapped in a gold mine in the Singgu area, where
there are many small-scale mines.
A police officer in Singgu Township opposite Kyauk Myaung on
the east side of the Irrawaddy told Reuters that four people had
died there and another nine were injured in the earthquake.
"Those injured are not in a critical condition. We are still
monitoring the damage and casualties in the environs," he said.
Several strong aftershocks hit the region, including one put
at magnitude 5.8 as evening approached at 5:24 p.m. (1054 GMT).
The United Nations' Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar said the first quake was also
felt in Thailand, Laos and Yunnan province in China.
"Information available at this stage indicates that the
event did not result in serious damage," it said in a statement.
Myanmar is among Asia's poorest countries.
A quasi-civilian government has opened up the country since
taking over in March 2011 from the military, which had ruled for
nearly 50 years.
The military regime was condemned by humanitarian agencies
in 2008 for initially refusing international help to cope with
Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 130,000 people.
President Barack Obama is set to become the first U.S.
leader to visit Myanmar this month, the strongest international
endorsement of the country's fragile democratic transition.
Obama will travel to Myanmar during a Nov. 17-20 tour of
Southeast Asia that will also take in Thailand and Cambodia. It
will be his first international trip since winning a second term