A rare 5.9-magnitude quake hit North Korea off its east coast and ruled out a nuclear explosion as a reason. The quake occurred at 4:18 am local time on Thursday (July 13) at a depth of 537.6 km under the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.
The Pentagon and the US Geological Survey said the quake was unlikely to be caused by a nuclear test. Pentagon spokesman Jimmy Davis said the depth and location of initial reports to remove nuclear tests. He said the Pentagon was monitoring the area for more information.
“It happened 500 kilometers below the seabed, and there is no way from a nuclear test, it is a natural earthquake,” John Pliny, a geologist with the South Korean news agency, told Yonhap news agency. Some reports said the magnitude of the earthquake was 5.8 and 6.
An earthquake of this magnitude in the region is rare. The previous occasion when a major earthquake hit this area of the Sea of Japan was thought to be in 2004.
Previous North Korean nuclear tests have caused seismic events in the region, but tests are usually underground, not under water. The country has conducted five underground nuclear tests since 2006, with the last explosions in 2016.
The earthquake on Sunday came amid widespread fears that Pyongyang could carry out its sixth nuclear explosion as part of its efforts to boost its nuclear and missile programs.