A minor earthquake measuring three on the Richter scale has struck the northern Kyrgyz province of Naryn, a spokesman for the Kyrgyz emergencies ministry said from the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday.
"The epicentre of the tremor, which was registered on Tuesday, was near the village of Ak Muz in Naryn province. No casualties or damage have been reported," Abibilla Pazylov, an emergencies ministry's press officer, said.
This was the second tremor in the north registered this year. The previous one was in the northeastern province of Issyk-Kul.
Kyrgyzstan is located in a seismically active part of Central Asia and according to the Kyrgyz emergencies ministry there were some 30 tremors measuring over 3-4 degrees on the Richter scale in 2005. "As for the overall number of all tremors, every year there are around 3,000 of them in Kyrgyzstan," the emergency official explained.
But emergency officials and seismology experts warn that a strong earthquake could hit the former Soviet republic at any time. "Strong earthquakes that could measure up to 7 to 8 degrees on the Richter scale are anticipated in and around Kemin and Kochkor districts in the north and in mountainous areas of the south, particularly Ferghana and Alai mountain ranges, including areas close to the Tajik or Chinese border," Pazylov maintained.
The reason for such concern is that there was a strong earthquake in Kemin a century ago. "Seismologists say that such tremors are highly likely to reoccur every 100 years. The seismology institute is monitoring the seismic activity and reporting to us any new developments accordingly," he said.
As part of its earthquake preparedness programme, the ministry is conducting awareness-raising activities in areas susceptible to strong earthquakes, undertaking community training and distributing information on how to survive an earthquake.
Emergency officials say that numerous earthquakes can trigger landslides in Kyrgyzstan, where thousands of people live in areas prone to landslides and need to be relocated. The government says it does not have enough resources to undertake such a huge task.
The Central Asian region, including Kyrgyzstan, is prone to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, landslides, floods, avalanches and drought. According to the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), natural disasters have killed about 2,500 people and affected some 5.5 million, almost 10 percent of the total population in the region, over the past decade.
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