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The biggest earthquake to hit the east coast since the year

The biggest earthquake to hit the east coast since the year


Officials with the Korea Meteorological Administration are monitoring data for a 4.5-magnitude earthquake that struck waters off Donghae, Gangwon, Monday morning. [YONHAP]

An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale struck the eastern port city of Donghai on Monday, in the strongest earthquake to hit the country this year. The quake was monitored 52 kilometers (32 miles) northeast of Donghae at a depth of 32 kilometers, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA). The earthquake reached level 3 on the Korean seismic intensity scale of 12 in Gangwon and 2 in North Chungcheong. During an earthquake on an intensity scale of 3, people inside—especially those on the upper floors—can feel the tremor and parked cars shake. Level 2 is when a few people in quiet places and on higher floors feel the vibration. There were no reports of injuries or damage, but residents said they woke up in bed with their homes shaking. Monday’s quake worried many residents who live along the east coast, as more than 50 earthquakes have hit the region in the past month. A 3.1-magnitude earthquake struck Sunday in waters 51 kilometers northeast of Donghai, and two 2.5-magnitude earthquakes jolted in waters 4 kilometers south and southeast of Donghai on Wednesday. “I was in my yard in the morning and was surprised to see the whole yard shivering,” a 69-year-old man who lives in Mukho-dong, northern Donghae District, told JoongAng Ilbo. “My family who was at home could also feel the earthquake.” The Department of Home Affairs and Safety raised the earthquake alert level by one notch from “interest” to “alert” at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The ministry issued the alert level of the four-level warning system on April 25, as multiple earthquakes hit Gangwon. It also asked the public to “be aware of earthquake safety measures in case of emergency.”

Students at Chilbo Middle School in Suwon, Gyeonggi, take part in an earthquake evacuation drill on Monday. [YONHAP]

“I am worried because the strength of the earthquakes is on the rise,” said a 50-year-old resident of Mukho Dong. “It’s more worrying because there are power plants and gas facilities in Uljin, North Gyeongsang, nearby.” Gangwon Governor Kim Jin Tae on Monday also advised relevant authorities to closely monitor the situation and quickly respond to emergencies as earthquakes continue to occur in the area. Monday’s quake is believed to have been caused by a reverse fault that occurs when one plate moves upward relative to another due to pressure, according to KMA. Experts estimate that the earthquake started from an unknown fault located north of Donghai as it was detected from a relatively far area from the Hubu fault or the Ulong fault, which are two large underwater faults in the East Sea. “There is a fault that extends to the northeast from the northern end of the Ulleung fault,” said Kim Young Seog, a professor of geosciences at Pukyeong National University. “The error was never reported in Korea, but I found the information from a case compiled by a Japanese scientist.” Kim added that if the recent quake was a precursor tremor, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake could be coming because the unknown fault is linked to two large faults in the area. “But it is also possible that additional earthquakes will not occur because the focal depth is so deep.” The focal depth of earthquakes that usually occur on the Korean Peninsula is usually less than 10 km, but Monday’s earthquake was detected at a depth of 32 km.

By PARK JIN-HO, CHO JUNG-WOO [[email protected]]




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