January 22, 2007 08:53
An earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale rocked the winter sport area in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province on Saturday night. Some nearby ski resorts stopped operating lifts and goods were knocked off the shelves in local stores, but no serious damage or injuries were reported.
The tremors were felt throughout the nation except Jeju Island, and the Korea Meteorological Administration and fire stations were flooded with anxious phone calls. At 4.8 on the Richter scale, Saturday's earthquake was the eighth strongest reported in Korea and the biggest in Gangwon Province.
The biggest earthquakes in Korea occurred in Euiju, North Pyongan Province [in North Korea] in 1980 (5.3 magnitude), near Mt. Sokri in North Chungcheong Province on Sept. 16, 1978 (5.2) and 80 km off the coast of Uljin in North Gyeongsang Province on May 29, 2004 (5.2). There were also earthquakes of a 5.0 magnitude in Hongseong, South Chungcheong Province on March 30, 2003 and 80 km off Baek-ryeung Island.
Concerns are mounting that Korea is no longer safe from earthquakes. Experts warn that a strong earthquake could strike the Korean Peninsula within the next few years.
Ji Heon-cheol, of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, said "If a large-scale earthquake occurs in China or Japan close to Korea, inland areas in Korea will also be hit by a strong earthquake." He points out that an earthquake measuring 7.0 shook Fukuoka, Japan in 2005, heightening the chances of a 5.0 earthquake taking place in Korea imminently.
Two years after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit Korea's Hongseong. The 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan was followed by a 4.7-magnitude earthquake in Yeongweol in 1996.
The KMA said Sunday the epicenter of Saturday's earthquake was 23 km to the west of Gangneung City, Gangwon Province in Doam-myun, Pyeongchang. Lighter tremors of less than 1.6 were detected four times since then.
Meanwhile, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck 51 km off the east coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia on Sunday, damaging a church in Manado city and leaving at least three people injured, according to AP. Hundreds of terrified residents ran for shelter on higher ground for fear of a tsunami, causing serious traffic jams.
A geological institute in the U.S. says the epicenter was 2,200 km northeast of the capital Jakarta. A geological institute in Indonesia warned of a possible tsunami, but no signs of rising sea levels were detected. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the U.S. said the quake was strong enough to lead to a tidal wave.
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