Concerns arise over successive earthquakes in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province

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Concerns arise over successive earthquakes in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province

Tran Quang Hoai, general director of Vietnam Disaster Management Authority, presides over an online conference held in response to the string of earthquakes in Kon Tum Province in recent days, April 19, 2022. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

Earthquakes with a magnitude of 5-5.5 on the Richter scale could occur in Kon Tum Province after 22 back-to-back earthquakes had struck the Central Highlands province in the past four days, according to an expert.

Nguyen Xuan Anh, head of the Institute of Geophysics, on Tuesday told an online conference, held in response to the string of earthquakes in Kon Tum in recent days, that the province went through only 33 earthquakes from 1903 to 2020.

Among those, the largest, of magnitude 3.9, was recorded in 1937 and the smallest, of magnitude 3, happened in 2015.

The number of earthquakes in Kon Plong District and nearby areas, however, has been on the rise since April 2021, Anh noted.

Particularly, the area has recorded 169 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or higher ever since, five times more than that during the previous 120 years.

Between April 15 and 18 this year, there were 22 earthquakes, with the biggest having a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale.

Anh said that if it were a tectonic earthquake, the cause was usually energy accumulation. Meanwhile, a stimulated earthquake might be the result of water storage at a hydroelectric dam.

In the future, there might be more quakes in Kon Plong, with magnitudes of up to 5.5 or even higher, he warned.

Although no human and property damage has been recorded in the area, the seismic vibrations caused by the recent earthquakes have disturbed local people’s lives.

The Institute of Geophysics is thus proposing building two more stations for better surveillance and to figure out the cause of the earthquakes, thereby minimizing the consequences.

At the meeting, Tran Quang Hoai, general director of the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority, proposed hydropower projects and important works in the area, particularly the Upper Kon Tum hydropower plant, stop storing water during unseasonal rains as it may trigger more earthquakes.

Kon Tum authorities need to cooperate with hydropower plants and owners of key infrastructure works to prepare contingency plans for different situations.

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