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Spanish seismologist had predicted a quake "shortly"

Taiwan police grill apocalypse 'prophet'
Taipei (AFP) May 12, 2011 - Taiwanese police questioned a self-styled "prophet" Thursday, one day after his prediction that the island would be hit by a monster earthquake flopped.

After talking to Wang Chao-hung, better known as "Teacher Wang", officers decided to pass the case to prosecutors to investigate a possible offence of spreading socially disruptive rumours.

"We summoned and questioned him today," said Yang Teng-yao, the deputy chief of the police precinct in the central Taiwan town of Puli.

"The case will be taken over by local prosecutors and Wang will come under further questioning."

Lawyers say that if convicted, Wang could be imprisoned for three days and fined up to Tw$30,000 ($1,050).

Wang had "predicted" that a 14-magnitude earthquake would hit Taiwan early Wednesday and had urged people to move into makeshift shelters in the form of converted cargo containers, set up in the town of Puli.

While very few appeared to believe his forecast, the shelter village set up by Wang in Puli was the centre of intense public and media attention.

by Staff Writers
Madrid, Spain (AFP) May 12, 2011
A top Spanish seismologist warned of a possible destructive earthquake "shortly," less than three months before Wednesday's killer 5.1-magnitude tremor.

Luis Suarez, president of the Official Geological College, said in a February 28 interview that Spain lay in a moderately active seismic zone and was not in a particularly intense period.

But a destructive earthquake could hit "shortly, in the not-distant future," he was quoted as telling Spanish news agency Europa Press, identifying the southern Murcia and Andalucia regions as a danger zone.

In the February 28 interview, he said statistically Spain was hit with a major destructive earthquake every 70 years and the last one occurred in 1884 killing 900 people.

There were no instruments capable of accurately forecasting a tremor, so statistics were the only guide, he said.

A 5.1-magnitude quake struck at 6:47 pm (1647 GMT) on Wednesday with a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) in the Murcia region and could be felt as far away as the capital Madrid.

It toppled buildings in the southeastern city of Lorca, killing eight people and injuring at least 130.

Suarez was not immediately available to comment on his earlier quake prediction.

The seismologist was quoted by Spanish paper El Publico on Wednesday as saying buildings in Lorca "should not have toppled" in a quake of only 5.1-magnitude.

The area is quake prone and should have been better prepared, the seismologist reportedly said, adding that older buildings can be strengthened to survive such a quake, saving lives.

The US Geological Survey said Wednesday's quake occurred within the plate region that separates the Eurasia and Africa plates.

At the longitude of the earthquake, the Africa plate is moving northwest with respect to the Eurasia plate at a speed of six millimetres, or a quarter-inch, a year, it said.

The epicenter was near a major fault, the Alhama de Murcia fault, but the USGS said the quake could also have been unleashed on a nearby fault in the Earth's crust.

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5.1 quake kills eight, topples buildings in Spain
Lorca, Spain (AFP) May 11, 2011
A magnitude 5.1 quake killed at least eight people in southern Spain on Wednesday, sending historic buildings crashing down as panicked residents fled for their lives. Eight people perished in the deadliest tremor in Spain in more than five decades, a spokeswoman for the regional government of Murcia said, revising down an earlier toll of 10 dead without explanation. The quake collapsed ... read more

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