More seismic monitors are needed to provide more precise and timely information to the public, because Myanmar is in a seismically active area, said U Yin Myo Min Htwe, assistant director of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.
Although the department has many seismic monitoring systems it needs more, because there are not enough to give the public quick and accurate information.
“We already have monitors, including three to record the sea level for tsunami alerts in Sittwe [in Rakhine], Mawlamyine [in Mon], and Haigyi [in Ayeyarwady], but we can’t say it’s enough,” he told an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Myanmar Earthquake Committee on Sunday.
So far this year, there have been 119 earthquakes, compared to 165 in all of 2018, 69 in all of 2017, and 42 in 2016, the department said.
The biggest geological feature tied to earthquakes in Myanmar is the Sagaing Fault, which roughly divides the country along a north-south orientation, running through population centres such as Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, and near Yangon.
The fault has been the source of major quakes in the past, causing a magnitude 7.3 temblor in Bago that resulted in over 500 deaths in 1930, some 90 years ago.
“The Sagaing Fault is a major cause of worry. An earthquake is estimated to occur every 80 years, and if it happens, some regions, including Yangon, could be affected,” U Myo Thant of the Department of Geology at the University of Yangon said.
If an earthquake strikes, cooking fires should be immediately put out and electric switches turned off. People in vehicles should slow down and stop at a safe spot, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
It added that during earthquakes people should run out of buildings as quickly as possible, or take cover under strong tables, beds or in corners.
After an earthquake, people should not enter buildings without proper inspection of their structural integrity, it said.
As landslides can occur during quakes, people should not go near river banks or mountainous terrain.
Floods can also happen from breaches of dams and reservoirs, experts say.
In August, moderate earthquakes hit Myanmar, including a 5.5 magnitude quake in Thandwe township in Rakhine on August 18, and a 5.0 magnitude near Myitkyina township in Kachin on Monday, the department said.