The government on Wednesday rolled out emergency response measures following the 5.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the southeastern industrial city of Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province.
The quake occurred at around 2:29 p.m. some 9 kilometers north of Pohang and a series of aftershocks followed, the Korea Meteorological Administration said. A quake that struck South Korea last year at magnitude 5.8 in the nearby city of Gyeongju is the only stronger one on record.
The initial quake, the second largest on record in South Korea, was followed by a 4.6-magnitude quake at about 4:49 p.m.
According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, no fatalities were immediately reported to the authorities. As of 5 p.m., 10 light injuries were reported in Daegu and the North Gyeongsang Province area.
Cheong Wa Dae said that President Moon Jae-in was briefed on the earthquake on his way to Seoul from Manila, and convened a meeting with his senior aides immediately upon arrival. Moon returned from an eight-day tour of Southeast Asian nations on Wednesday.
|Debris are seen caused by earthquake in Pohang, South Korea, November 15, 2017. (Yonhap)|
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon called on government agencies to roll out response measures according to the country’s disaster relief manual, and highlighted the need to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities.
“As with organizations concerned with disaster relief and damage assessment, nuclear power plants, and related facilities must go into emergency operations until the situation is over,” Lee said at the emergency response center in Seoul.
The Ministry of Interior and Safety put the emergency response headquarters into operation at about 2:43 p.m.
Minister of Interior Kim Boo-kyum headed to Pohang, while the ministry dispatched officials to assess the situation and to oversee the response measures. Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-hwan ordered concerned government bodies to assess cultural assets in the area for possible earthquake damages.
In response to the earthquake, Marines and special operations troops were mobilized to support relief and cleanup efforts.
According to reports, the earthquake shook buildings, causing books to fall from shelves and sending tremors to as far as Seoul and northern Gyeonggi Province.
People on Jeju Island also reported buildings shaking, books falling from shelves and frames falling off walls.
It also caused brief disruptions in internet and other communication services.
In Pohang, about 100 residents of an apartment complex near the epicenter fled their homes to safer areas after the quake hit. Students at a nearby elementary school were seen evacuating classrooms.
|Buildings are seen with cracks and in rubbles following the quake in Pohang (Yonhap)|
By Choi He-suk and news reports (email@example.com)