Fri, Nov 17, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Rare South Korea quake injures 50, postpones exams

AFP, SEOUL

Debris from a nearby building lies in a street in Pohang, South Korea, after a magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck the city on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

More than 50 people were injured and 1,500 taken to shelters in South Korea after a rare magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit the southeastern port of Pohang on Wednesday, officials said yesterday.

The second-most powerful quake recorded in the nation hit at a shallow depth of 9km on Wednesday afternoon, sparking alarm in a nation that rarely experiences significant tremors.

The quake, which was felt across the nation, including in the capital, Seoul, damaged nearly 1,100 homes and more than 100 schools, the South Korean Ministry of Public Safety and Security said in a statement.

Roads, and public and military facilities were also damaged, while 57 people were left injured and 1,536 seeking shelter outside their home, it said — adding that no deaths had been reported.

It came about a year after the nation’s most powerful earthquake to date, a magnitude 5.8 tremor that struck another southeastern city, Gyeongju, in September last year.

Photographs of the aftermath of Wednesday’s quake showed damaged homes, shattered storefronts and cars smashed by fallen bricks.

One video posted on social media showed dozens of students screaming and fleeing in panic as a large brick facade crumbled and fell off the top of a campus building.

As dozens of aftershocks continued to rattle Pohang, Seoul late on Wednesday announced the unusual decision to postpone the nation’s nationwide college entrance exams — scheduled for yesterday — by a week.

The annual event is closely watched by the whole nation, which falls silent on the day to help teenagers focus on the test, whose results could define their future in the hyper-competitive society.

It was the second time the test has been postponed since 1992, when several test papers were found missing a day before the exam, forcing authorities to delay the event by several weeks.

The Korean Peninsula, unlike neighboring Japan, rarely experiences significant earthquakes, but seismic activity is closely monitored because a spike in activity is often the first indication that North Korea has staged a nuclear test.

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