Earthquake hits near nuclear test site of North Korea

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

The tremor hit at 01:41 am (1641 GMT Thursday) with a depth of around five kilometers (three miles), the US Geological Survey said, with the epicenter 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 September 23 a likely aftershock of the North’s sixth and largest nuclear test.

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