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(3rd LD) Earthquake off N. Korea not caused by nuclear test: U.S. Geological Survey

All News 06:31 July 13, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with USGS official's remarks that quake was not caused by nuclear test; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Yonhap) -- A magnitude-5.8 earthquake that occurred off North Korea's east coast Thursday (local time) was not caused by a nuclear test, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The tremor occurred at 4:18 a.m. North Korean time at a depth of 537.6 km below the East Sea, 176 kilometers east-southeast of Hoemul-li, North Korea, the agency said on its website.

The quake does not appear to have been caused by a nuclear test, a USGS official said.

"It occurred at 500 km below the seabed. There's no way it was caused by a nuclear test. It's a natural earthquake," John Bellini, a geophysicist at the USGS National Earthquake Information Center, told Yonhap by phone.

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Jamie Davis also dismissed the possibility of a nuclear test, pointing to its location and depth, Reuters reported.

North Korea has conducted five underground nuclear tests since 2006. It is widely expected to carry out more tests following its test-launch last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Ultimately, the communist nation aims to build an ICBM capable of hitting the continental U.S. with a nuclear warhead fitted on top.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center reported Thursday's earthquake to be of magnitude 5.9. It occurred 537 km below the seabed and 193 km southeast of Rajin, northeastern North Korea, the center said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued no alerts as a result of the quake.


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