Earth­quake hits North Korea near nu­clear test site

The Star Malaysia - - World -

seoul: A shal­low 2.9-mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck near North Korea’s nu­clear test site, weeks af­ter Py­ongyang’s big­gest det­o­na­tion, but South Korean ex­perts said the tremor did not ap­pear to be man-made.

The tremor hit at 1.41am (lo­cal time) with a depth of around 5km, the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said, with the epi­cen­tre lo­cated north of the Pung­gye-Ri test­ing site.

“This event oc­curred in the area of the pre­vi­ous North Korean nu­clear tests. The event has earth­quake-like char­ac­ter­is­tics, how­ever, we can­not con­clu­sively con­firm at this time the na­ture (nat­u­ral or hu­man-made) of the event,” the US agency said.

But the Korea Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion in the South said on its web­site that “anal­y­sis shows it was a nat­u­ral quake”.

“It is be­lieved to have caused no dam­age,” it added.

It came three weeks af­ter a 3.5-mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck near the same area, with seis­mic ex­perts and a UN nu­clear test ban watch­dog call­ing that tremor on Sept 23 a likely af­ter­shock of the North’s sixth and largest nu­clear test.

The test on Sept 3 trig­gered a much stronger 6.3-mag­ni­tude quake that was felt across the bor­der in China and sparked global con­dem­na­tion.

The strength of yes­ter­day’s quake was much lower than the tre­mors reg­is­tered dur­ing any of North Korea’s pre­vi­ous nu­clear tests, in­clud­ing its first det­o­na­tion in 2006, which trig­gered a 4.1-mag­ni­tude quake.

Ten­sions have soared in re­cent weeks fol­low­ing Py­ongyang’s nu­clear test as US Pres­i­dent Trump en­gages in an es­ca­lat­ing war of words with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump used his maiden speech to the UN in Septem­ber to threaten to “de­stroy” the nu­clear-armed na­tion if Kim did not back down.

Kim re­sponded with a rare per­sonal re­buke, call­ing Trump “men­tally de­ranged” and threat­en­ing the “high­est level of hard-line coun­ter­mea­sure in his­tory”. — AFP

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