Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 
By Erik Ortiz

A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake rattled central Myanmar on Wednesday afternoon, damaging centuries-old Buddhist pagodas in the Southeast Asian nation and killing at least three people, local officials said.

The quake hit around 4:34 p.m. local time (6:04 a.m. ET) about 15 miles west of Chauk, near the ancient capital of Bagan. It shook buildings in Myanmar's largest city of Yangon and across the region, sending terrified workers out of their offices, witnesses told Reuters.

The quake was also felt several hundred miles away in Thailand's capital of Bangkok, as well as in Bangladesh, India, Laos and China.

A fire department official from regional capital Magwe said two young girls were killed when a riverbank gave way in Yenanchaung township, south of Chauk.

One person was killed and another injured when a tobacco processing factory collapsed in the town of Pakkoku, to the north, the duty officer at the local fire department said.

There were no other immediate reports of deaths or major damage.

The epicenter is in an area where earthquakes are fairly common, but usually don't cause many casualties because there are no large densely populated cities. However, reports of damage from remote villages are often slow to arrive.

Past quakes have damaged structures such as the world-famous Buddhist pagodas. Bagan, a major tourist attraction also known as Pagan, has hundreds of such sites popular with tourists.

Myanmar, meanwhile, has been hit by other quakes this year, including a 5.5-magnitude temblor that struck the Myanmar-India border region Tuesday morning.

It also comes after a 6.2-magnitude quake rocked central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least three dozen people and reducing small towns to rubble.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed.