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Series of quakes sparks concern in S. China

BEIJING -- Nine earthquakes with magnitudes above 4 have rocked southern parts of China this week, prompting experts to call for closer monitoring.

On Friday alone, two were recorded in Guangdong and Yunnan provinces.

According to the Guangdong Earthquake Bureau, the latest was a magnitude-4.8 quake that hit Dongyuan county in Heyuan at 11:34 a.m. on Friday, just 1 km from the site of another magnitude-4.8 quake on Feb. 16 last year.

Tan Jianzhong, Party chief of Xichang town in Dongyuan county, said no casualties or property damage were reported.

The latest quake happened 11 km underground from the northwestern rim of the Xinfengjiang Reservoir area, which had been experiencing frequent quakes of below magnitude-2, according to the bureau.

The tremors lasted for about 10 seconds and felt very strong, said Tan.

Tan added that there was little possibility of any bigger earthquakes hitting the region in the near future, but smaller quakes were predicted.

People in many Guangdong cities, including Chaozhou, Jiangmen, Dongguan and Shaoguan, felt the tremor as did those in the neighboring provinces of Jiangxi and Fujian.

“I felt a slight shake and dizziness for a short while I was working on my computer. I thought it might be an earthquake and was about to call my colleagues out of the office,” said Guangzhou office worker Liu Xin.

At 5:43 a.m. on the same day, a magnitude-4.2 earthquake had hit the border area of Yongsheng county and Ninglang Yi autonomous county of Lijiang in Yunnan province, according to the China Earthquake Networks centre.

The quake was strongly felt in Yongsheng and damaged some houses, said the provincial department of civil affairs.

Friday's two quakes followed seven others with similar magnitudes in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region between Monday and Wednesday.

Of those, the biggest was recorded at a magnitude of 4.9 in Yunnan's Qiaojia county on Tuesday, which flattened 72 houses and damaged 949 others. Eight people were injured, including two seriously, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Sun Shihong, a retired chief forecaster with the China Earthquake Administration, said on Friday that it was unusual for the earthquakes to be so concentrated in southwestern China.

“Besides that, the magnitudes from 4.2 to 4.9 were all quite small, and as such the authorities should be keeping a close watch.”

Experts from the China Earthquake Networks center were quoted by Beijing Morning Post on Thursday as saying due to its limited forecasting capability, it was hard to predict whether bigger earthquakes will occur in the area, but it was closely monitoring the affected regions.

Sun said that on average, about 18 earthquakes with magnitudes above 7, 100 earthquakes with magnitudes above 6 and more than 1,000 with magnitudes above 5, occur around the world each year.

In the past two months, there have been eight earthquakes with magnitudes above 7, including one in Russia.

“The world has been in an active seismic period in the first two months of this year compared with previous years.

“But it does not mean some bigger earthquakes will definitely happen in the near future. Everything needs to be monitored closely,” he added.

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