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Earthquake Detected Near North Korean Nuclear Test Site

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The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake was detected some 23 kilometers north-east of the Punggye-ri Test Site, but it has yet to confirm whether it was a natural or a man-made tremor. The same area experienced a 3.5-magnitude quake on September 23, which came three weeks after the 6.3-magnitude tremor caused by North Korea's hydrogen bomb test.

The United States Geological Survey said a 2.9 magnitude quake with a depth of 5km had been recorded 23km north-east of Sungjibaegam on Thursday (12 October) which was used before for nuclear drills.

Kim So-gu, head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute, said: "The explosion from the September 3 test had such power that the existing tunnels within the underground testing site might have caved in".

Meanwhile, the South Korea Meteorological Administration posted on its official website that "analysis shows it was a natural quake".

South Korea's weather agency detected a 2.7 magnitude quake near the Punggye-ri test site, Reuters reported.

North Korea's deficit with China more than tripled in the first nine months of the year from the same period in 2016, to US$1.07 billion, Huang told a news conference, according to Bloomberg News.

A stronger 6.3-magnitude quake was triggered by a test on September 3 and it was felt across the border in China and sparked global condemnation. "If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution", he added.

The UN stepped up sanctions after Pyongyang fired missiles over Japan and tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb last month.

Hong Tae-kyung, a professor of earth system science at Yonsei University in Seoul, said: "The reason why Punggye-ri has become North Korea's nuclear testing field is because this area was considered stable and rarely saw tremors in the past".

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