Temples survive Myanmar earthquake

But event highlights need for rigorous protection
Bagan’s famed pagodas were among the casualties of a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck central Myanmar last week. But the damage was not devastating.
The epicentre of the quake on Wednesday was near Chauk, a town 120km from Bagan. At least three people were killed and 185 brick pagodas were damaged, the state newspaper reported.
Hotels in the destination are generally unscathed and tours to Bagan are continuing as usual, but the interiors of several temples are off limits for the time being, according to feedback from DMCs and tour operators in Myanmar.
“There are over 3,000 temples and pagodas in Bagan and of these 171 have been affected,” Natalie Scott, sales and marketing manager at Myanmar Polestar, tells TTG Asia. “Most of the damage [was confined to] a small area of the stupas or parts of the buildings, while the main structures remain intact.”
Some temples in Mrauk U, another destination in Rakhine state, were destroyed in the quake, said Lynn Zaw Wai Mang, general manager and executive director at Unique Asia Travels & Tours.
“Most of the affected areas are heritage sites, so people are saddened,” he said.
But seeing a “silver lining” from the event is Khiri Travel Myanmar general manager Edwin Briels.
“The Bagan temples were built over 800 years ago and there has been little funding since then to maintain the structures,” he said, adding that the earthquake “all the ancient temples are still standing strong even after a big earthquake”.
“The majority of the bricks that fell off were new bricks added during renovations over the last decades,” he added.
Myanmar is currently seeking UNESCO World Heritage Status for Bagan, after its first bid for recognition in 1996 was rejected due to poor management and legal frameworks.
TTG Asia

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