Magnitude-6.6 earthquake strikes northern Myanmar

Updated 11 November 2012
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Magnitude-6.6 earthquake strikes northern Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar: A strong earthquake struck northern Myanmar on Sunday, causing residents to flee their homes, but no injuries or major damage were immediately reported.
The magnitude-6.6 temblor hit the area at 7:42 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey. The quake had a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles) and hit 117 kilometers (72 miles) north of Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city.
Four residents of Mandalay, contacted by phone, said the quake was strong enough to send people dashing out of their homes for safety, as water splashed out of jars. They said they saw no major structural damage in their immediate neighborhoods, but added that it did cause cracks in some walls.
The epicenter of the quake is a region frequently hit by small temblors that usually cause little damage.
The quake was felt in Bangkok, the capital of neighboring Thailand. It comes just a week ahead of a scheduled visit to Myanmar by President Barack Obama. He will be the first US president to visit the one-time pariah nation, which is emerging from decades of military rule.


Beijing protests US warship operation in South China Sea

Updated 21 min 12 sec ago
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Beijing protests US warship operation in South China Sea

BEIJING: China has voiced “strong dissatisfaction” after two US warships sailed by an island claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, adding to simmering tensions in the strategic waterway.
The foreign ministry issued a statement expressing “resolute opposition” to the US sail-by of the territory in the disputed Paracel Island chain on Sunday.
The US military conducts what it calls “freedom of navigation” voyages in the South China Sea to contest Beijing’s assertion of territorial rights in the area, although the US has no claims of its own in the disputed region.
The US Navy’s Higgins and Antietam warships, a destroyer and cruiser respectively, entered China’s territorial waters without permission and were met by the Chinese Navy, which “conducted verification and identification of US ships according to law and warned them to leave,” the ministry said.
State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were “expelled” from the waters.
The operation was conducted just over a week after Beijing flew nuclear-capable bombers to a disputed island in a bold powerplay to show its military might and boost its territorial claims in the area.
The move prompted immediate criticism from the US, which last week pulled its invitation to China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea.
Beijing has been building artificial islands to reinforce its claim over most of the resource-rich South China Sea despite protests from Southeast Asian countries.
Its neighbors, particularly some of those involved in maritime disputes over the waters, have expressed fears China could eventually restrict freedom of navigation and overflight.