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Earthquake cracks walls and roads, damages temples in north Thailand; 1 death reported

Goods at a grocery store fallen from from the shelves after an earthquake in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Monday, May 5, 2014. A strong earthquake shook northern Thailand and Myanmar on Monday evening, and some light damage was reported. (AP Photo)

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Goods at a grocery store fallen from from the shelves after an earthquake in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Monday, May 5, 2014. A strong earthquake shook northern Thailand and Myanmar on Monday evening, and some light damage was reported. (AP Photo)

BANGKOK - Officials said Tuesday that one person was killed and several dozen were hurt in an earthquake that struck northern Thailand and Myanmar a day earlier, smashing windows, cracking walls and roads and damaging Buddhist temples.

The airport in Chiang Rai, a northern Thai city near the epicenter of the shallow magnitude 6.3 temblor, evacuated people from its terminal, where display signs and pieces of the ceiling fell. There was no damage to the runway or flight disruptions, airport General Manager Damrong Klongakara said.

A well-known temple near the city, the all-white Wat Rongkhun, was closed due to safety concerns after the earthquake.

"The spire of the main building came off and the tiles on the roof fell off," Chalermchai Kositpiphat, the artist who designed the temple, told Nation TV. "I still don't know how we can sleep tonight. ... It was shaking the whole time and then aftershocks followed four to five times."

Anusorn Kaewkangwan, the deputy director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an 83-year-old woman in Chiang Rai's Mae Lao district was killed when the brick walls of her house collapsed onto her during the quake.

Anusorn said about 25 people were slightly injured, mostly from fallen ceilings or items in their houses.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said the quake was magnitude 6.3. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 6.0 and said the epicenter was 9 kilometres (6 miles) south of Mae Lao and 27 kilometres (17 miles) southwest of Chiang Rai. Its depth was a relatively shallow 7.4 kilometres (4.6 miles). Shallow quakes often cause more damage.

Southeast Asia is seismically active and quakes are often felt in surrounding nations. Thailand has several faults, though in recent times quakes centred in the country have been less severe than those in other Southeast Asian nations, such as Myanmar and Indonesia.

A 9.1-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra island on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 8,000 people in Thailand's coastal areas, among its overall death toll of 240,000.

The last earthquake in Thailand approaching the size of Monday's quake registered magnitude 5.1 on Dec. 13, 2006, in Chiang Mai province.

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Associated Press writers Christie Hampton and Grant Peck contributed to this report.

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