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Sichuan warned of a strong earthquake. It was a false alarm.

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Officials in southwestern Sichuan Province have apologized for setting off a false earthquake alarm, warning residents of an 8.1-magnitude earthquake near Luzhou city, which was shaken by a strong earthquake last month.

The Sichuan Earthquake Administration said Tuesday night’s warning was caused by a “technical error related to the automatic remediation system.” The authority said the area has not reported any earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 and above.

Sichuan Province, located in a seismically active area, is often subjected to earthquakes. Last month, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Luo County, Luzhou City, killed 3 people and injured dozens.

In May 2008, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake – one of the worst natural disasters in China in recent decades – devastated the province’s Wenchuan county, leaving more than 80,000 people dead or missing.

A decade later, Chinese authorities launched the Wenchuan Seismic Activity Monitoring Station, which they claim can predict earthquakes within two days with an accuracy of 70-80%. Officials said the technology alerted schools and residential communities about 60 seconds before the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that killed more than a dozen people in 2019.

According to the USGS, earthquake early warning systems, while useful, come with limitations, including “false and missing warnings.” Errors in these warning systems have also led to false alarms in other seismically active countries such as Japan and Mexico in recent years.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Banner image: EyeEm/People Visual)

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