A 5.1 magnitude tremor was detected close to North Korea’s nuclear test site on Wednesday, triggering concerns that Pyongyang had conducted a fresh atomic explosion.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was in the northeast of the country, some 50 kilometres northwest of Kilju city, placing it right next to the Punggye- ri nuclear test site.
The South Korean Meteorological agency confirmed the quake was man-made.
Japan’s top government spokesman also said that an earthquake in North Korea may have been a nuclear test, based on past experience.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the government is gathering and analyzing information on the incident.
He also said the government has convened meetings of a task force on North Korea.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center also detected unusual seismic activity in North Korea. It isn’t immediately clear whether North Korea has conducted its fourth nuclear test.
The agency measured the magnitude of the seismic activity at 5.1 on its website on Wednesday.
The China Earthquake Network Centre describing it on its website as a “suspected explosion”.
North Korea plans a major announcement later on Wednesday.
South Korea’s presidential office convened an emergency security meeting while Japan’s chief government spokesman said the earthquake was likely caused by a nuclear test.
The last North Korean nuclear test, in 2013, registered at 5.1 on the U.S.G.S. scale.
North Korea is known to have conducted three nuclear tests and is under U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs.
South Korean shares and the won currency extended declines on Wednesday.