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South Korea reviews tsunami response systems

In light of the strongest earthquake ever to hit Japan, Korea is reviewing its tsunami warning and seismic response systems.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration and other seismologists, Korea would have at most 100 crucial minutes to evacuate citizens on the eastern coast before a tsunami hits land here, should an at least magnitude-7 quake strike western Japan.

Officials, however, said that time would be shortened after a stronger earthquake.

“Tsunamis have a characteristic of moving faster the greater the magnitude of the quake, and the depth of the ocean,” said a KMA official.

In preparation for such an event, the National Emergency Management Agency installed an earthquake response system and a tsunami warning system in 2009.

In the event of a destructive quake, the government agency will dispatch the fire department, police and military to rescue survivors and relocate displaced citizens after determining the scale of damage.

The government also has in place 238 tsunami alert systems in over 33 administrative districts in seven provinces and cities. They are also prepared to evacuate citizens living in those areas in the 1 hour and 30 minutes.

In 1993, a tsunami roughly 2.7 meters in height reached Korea’s east coast 112 minutes after a magnitude 7.8 quake struck off the coast of Japan’s Okushiri Island, Hokkaido Prefecture.

By Robert Lee (rjmlee@heraldcorp.com)
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