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'Suspected explosion' causes earthquake near China-North Korea border

It was unclear what caused the explosion.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Image: PA Images

A “SUSPECTED EXPLOSION” near the China-North Korean border has caused a small earthquake, Chinese seismology authorities said, less than an hour after news broke about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to Pyongyang.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, the 1.3-magnitude earthquake with a zero metre depth occurred at 7.38 pm (12.38pm Irish time) in Hunchun city in northeastern Jilin province.

It was unclear what caused the explosion.

In the past, nuclear tests by Pyongyang have caused tremors and mini quakes around the northern border China shares with North Korea.

In September 2017, a test conducted at North Korea’s nuclear site at Punggye-ri under Mount Mantap triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that was felt across China’s northern border.

Chinese seismologists later concluded that Pyongyang’s main nuclear test site had partially collapsed, rendering it unusable, following the massive bomb blast, which the North claimed was a hydrogen bomb test.

The smaller size of the latest earthquake cast doubt on whether the explosion was related to a test with suggestions it could be industrial in nature, such as from mining. 

The explosion comes as it was announced that Xi Jinping will make the first trip to North Korea by a Chinese president in 14 years this week.

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Xi will visit Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as Beijing tightens relations with Pyongyang amid tensions with the United States.

The timing is likely to raise eyebrows at the White House as it comes one week before the G20 summit in Japan, where US President Donald Trump expects to meet with Xi to discuss their protracted trade war.

Analysts say Xi could now use North Korea as leverage in talks with Trump.

© – AFP 2019

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