Nation jolted by this year’s strongest quake; 15 aftershocks reported

June 12, 2024

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck near the southwestern county of Buan on Wednesday, the strongest temblor to hit the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding waters so far this year, the weather agency said.

The quake struck 4 kilometers south-southwest of the North Jeolla county, 204 km south of Seoul, at 8:26 a.m. at an estimated depth of 8 km, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).

The epicenter was at 35.7 degrees north latitude and 126.71 degrees east longitude, the KMA said, noting it is the strongest to have occurred on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding waters this year.

Fifteen aftershocks were reported as of 2 p.m., with the strongest of the latest tremors measured at a magnitude of 3.1, occurring at 1:55 p.m.

A KMA official said the tremors are expected to continue for at least a week, citing past records of magnitude 4 to 5 earthquakes on the peninsula, with aftershocks persisting for a few months.

The North Jeolla provincial government said it had not received any reports of facility damage or casualties related to the quake.

The earthquake was felt across many parts of the country, including the greater Seoul area, the Chungcheong provinces and the southeastern regions.

A total of 213 cases had been reported nationwide related to feeling the tremors from the quake as of 8:50 a.m., including 77 reports in North Jeolla Province, according to firefighter and interior ministry officials.

Citizens in Jeonju, the capital of North Jeolla Province, called fire authorities to say that they felt a rather strong vibration for a few seconds, mostly on their way to work. “At first, I thought it was an explosion coming from a construction site. I was momentarily shocked,” a Jeonju citizen said.

People in Sejong, about 140 km from Buan, also reported that chairs and TVs in offices and homes were shaking at the time of the quake.

The KMA initially said the magnitude was 4.7 but revised it upward after a detailed analysis.

It marked the first earthquake over magnitude 4 to strike within an 80-kilometer radius of where the quake hit, according to the KMA, adding there is no information on the fault in the region, as it is not a common place for such a strong temblor to occur.

“As of now, there is no fault in the region that has been picked up,” a KMA official said.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry has raised the alert level of its Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters, the nation’s disaster control tower, to Level 1, the lowest stage in the three-stage system.

The third-highest earthquake alert of “vigilance” has also been issued.

It is the first time in about a year for the nation to be hit by a quake of magnitude 4.5 or greater. On May 15 last year, a 4.5 magnitude quake struck in waters off the northeastern coastal city of Donghae. In February 2018, a quake of magnitude 4.6 occurred in waters off the southeastern city of Pohang.

The quake did not affect the nuclear power plant, according to the state-run operator.