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Oct 13, 2017 12:24 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Earthquake in North Korea near nuclear test site sparks speculations of another test

The tremor hit at 01:41 AM (local time) with a depth of around five kilometres, the US Geological Survey said, with the epicentre located north of the Punggye-Ri testing site.

Earthquake in North Korea near nuclear test site sparks speculations of another test

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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 (local time) with a depth of around five kilometres, 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 was quoted saying in a report by the PTI.

However, as per a PTI report, the Korea Meteorological Administration of South Korea said on its website that "analysis shows it was a natural quake".

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

The earthquake came three weeks after a 3.5-magnitude earthquake struck near the same area. Seismic experts and UN's nuclear test ban watchdog called that tremor on September 23 a likely aftershock of the North's sixth and largest nuclear test.

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The test on September 3 triggered a much stronger 6.3- magnitude quake that was felt across the border in China and sparked global condemnation, leading the United Nations Security Council to unanimously adopt tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.

The strength of Friday'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, referring to him as "Rocket Man".

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

Also Read: DATA STORY: How terrifying is North Korea’s nuclear threat?

The new development also comes just hours after the US Congress was warned about Pyongyang's capability to attack the US with an EMP (Electromagnetic pulse) bomb that could indefinitely shut down the US electric power grid and kill 90 percent of all Americans within a year.

Pyongyang, as per analysts is not far from achieving the capability to create nuclear warheads that can be fitted on missiles. It is also feared that the country will be able to develop, within two years, missiles that have the capacity to strike the US mainland.

(With inputs from PTI)
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