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Renovated Bagan pagoda collapses

The remains of Bagan's Pagoda No. 1066 after collapsing on 4 March 2018. (PHOTO: DVB)

One of Bagan’s celebrated ancient stone pagodas collapsed yesterday.

Listed only as Pagoda No 1066 and housing a Buddha statue, the structure measured 26 feet by 26 feet and was 40 feet high. The pagoda’s exact age is unknown; it was renovated in 1996 and then again after an earthquake in 2016.

According to Burma’s Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs, about 70 percent of the structure of Pagoda 1066 collapsed yesterday due to “excess weight on its walls”.

The walls had suffered cracks and damage during the 2016 earthquake, which took a devastating toll on many of the ancient monuments in the Bagan Archeological Zone.

Situated along the Irrawaddy River in Central Burma, some 150 kilometres southwest of Mandalay, the city of Bagan was the seat of the Pagan Empire from the 9th to 13th centuries. It was also a hub of Buddhist learning and hosted no less than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and monasteries. Today the ruins and renovations of just 2,200 structures remain standing.

On 24 August 2016, nearly 200 pagodas were damaged or destroyed by a 6.8-magnitude tremor.

Bagan is Burma’s best known historical site and one of the country’s most visited attractions. However, the impact from thousands of tourists climbing up the stairs to the top of the pagodas has severely impacted many structures in recent years.

Last year, signboards were erected in both English and Burmese languages prohibiting visitors from scaling all but a handful of the ancient monuments.