Rare 2.3-earthquake hits Suwon

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Rare 2.3-earthquake hits Suwon

A 2.3-magnitude earthquake was detected in Suwon, Gyeonggi, Monday morning, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

This is the first time an earthquake exceeding a magnitude of 2.0 has occurred in Suwon since the Korean government began monitoring seismic activity in 1978. According to the KMA, the earthquake occurred at around 9:02 a.m., two kilometers (1.2 miles) south of Suwon’s Gwonseon District.

There was no report of damages, according to the meteorological administration; people generally reported feeling reverberations or hearing booming sounds. Immediately after the quake, the 119 Rescue Services’ call centers in cities in Gyeonggi, including Hwaseong, Yongin and Ansan, received over 50 calls inquiring about the quake, but their were no reports of any casualties or major damages as of that afternoon.

Two large earthquakes of magnitudes 5.1 and 5.8 struck Gyeongju in North Gyeongsang on Sept. 12. The 5.8-magnitude quake was the largest since 1978. In the following weeks, nearly 500 aftershocks were observed in the region.

It has led to concerns among Koreans that the country can no longer be considered an earthquake safe zone, and the quake in Suwon is a further indicator that the Gyeonggi area is not completely safe from earthquakes.

Since 1978, there have been 16 earthquakes with magnitudes over 2.0 recorded in Gyeonggi. The strongest to date in Gyeonggi was a 3.0-magnitude quake, which occurred 8 kilometers north of the city of Siheung on Feb. 9, 2010.

“This is the first time an earthquake occurred in the Suwon region,” Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil said immediately after being briefed on the earthquake by the Gyeonggi Disaster and Safety Headquarters. “This goes to show that there is no place on the Korean Peninsula that is safe from earthquakes.”

He added, “Respond calmly to minimize any confusion for the people and prepare for any possible quakes in the future.”

Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae-young convened an emergency meeting at the city government’s disaster and safety situation room on Monday and said, “We will adopt a measure with the mindset that an earthquake can occur at anytime. We cannot simply take a posture of thinking, ‘things will be fine.’”

Suwon plans to complete an examination by 2018 as to whether public facilities in the city, including libraries, museums and water supply plants, are sufficiently resistant to earthquakes or whether they need further construction.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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