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Strong earthquake strikes near Thai-Laos border

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By Reuters

By Jit Phokaew

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A strong earthquake struck on Thursday near the border of Thailand and Laos, setting high-rise buildings swaying in Bangkok, and prompting at least one power plant in Laos to suspend operations for precautionary checks.

There were no reports of casualties or major damage from the quake, which had a magnitude of 6.1, the United States Geological Survey said, and hit at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), about 92 km (57 miles) northeast of Muang Nan at about 6.50 a.m. (2350 GMT).

The quake was felt across northern Thailand and by people in tall buildings as far away as the capital, more than 600 km (400 miles) to the south. Residents near the epicentre said they felt several aftershocks.

In Laos, the Honga Thermal Power Plant suspended operations, but there was no significant damage and electricity generation would be able to resume soon, Thai company Banpu Power PCL, which holds a stake of 40% in the plant, said in a statement.

The suspension should not affect power supply in Thailand, an official of electricity generator EGAT told Thailand’s Manager Online news site, adding that the southeast Asian nation could use gas-powered plants as a substitute.

Thailand’s CK Power said the two hydropower dams it operates in Laos, the newly opened Xayaburi Power Plant and the Nam Ngum plant, were operating normally, unaffected by the quake.

(Writing by Matthew Tostevin and Kay Johnson; Editing by Kim Coghill and Clarence Fernandez)