Quakes in Asia May Be Linked, Experts Say

From Reuters

The earth moved in Asia on Thursday as powerful aftershocks rocked the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and a series of earthquakes jolted China, Myanmar and Japan.

Experts said Sunday's mammoth quake in Indonesia's Bengkulu province, a magnitude 7.9, may have led to a shift in the huge tectonic plates deep under Asia's seas, prompting the burst of seismic activity this week.

Japan was rocked by three fairly strong earthquakes this week, while China and Myanmar were each hit by two. Nearly all measured above magnitude 5.

"It is not unusual to have a sequence of activity on a single seismic belt, [and] some of it can be quite intense," C. M. Tam of the Hong Kong Observatory said, referring to the Pacific belt stretching from New Zealand across a wide swath of East Asia.

Bengkulu's earthquake, which killed at least 120 people, injured about 1,300 and damaged thousands of homes and buildings, has spawned about 400 aftershocks, seismologists said.

The Bengkulu earthquake, which appears to have occurred after a rupture between two key plates--the Pacific and the Indian--may have triggered a chain reaction of seismic activity along the Pacific and Eurasia belts, the seismologists said.

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