4.0 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Southeastern City of Gyeongju in South Korea

SEOUL - A 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck the southeastern city of Gyeongju early Thursday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the earthquake, which occurred at approximately 4:55 a.m., 277 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was followed by five aftershocks until 5:50 a.m., and originated from an estimated depth of 12 km.

This seismic event is recorded as the second-strongest quake to hit the Korean Peninsula or its surrounding waters this year. Despite the intensity, fire authorities reported receiving 107 calls about the quake, with no damage reported as of 5 a.m.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., which operates the nation's nuclear and hydroelectric plants, confirmed that the earthquake did not affect the normal operations of its nuclear power facilities.

Gyeongju is no stranger to seismic activity, being near the epicenter of South Korea's most potent earthquake, a 5.8 magnitude event that occurred on September 12, 2016. Since 1978, the area within a 50-kilometer radius of the seismic center of Thursday's quake has experienced 418 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2 or stronger.

In response to the quake, the interior ministry elevated the alert level of its Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters to Level 1, the lowest stage in the three-tier system. Additionally, a "vigilance" earthquake alert, the third-highest level, has been issued.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo has directed officials to ensure thorough preparedness against possible disasters. The interior ministry, led by Minister Lee Sang-min, held an emergency meeting to assess the quake's aftermath and instructed a coordinated emergency response with related ministries and regional governments.

Lee Dol-nam, a local convenience store owner in Gyeongju, described the quake as causing intense shaking in his store. "I was shocked, and everything was trembling intensely," he shared with Yonhap News Agency, adding that he ran out of the store due to anxiety stemming from the 2016 quake.

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