S. Korea to triple budget on quake-resistant measures in 2017

South Korea will triple its spending on building nationwide earthquake-resistant infrastructure next year in a bid to strengthen the country's disaster prevention system, the finance ministry here said Monday.

The government has set aside 367 billion won (US$309 million) for anti-seismic measures out of the total 400 trillion-won budget for 2017, up from the 116.3 billion won allocated for this year, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

The budget increase came after the country experienced the strongest-ever earthquake in Gyeongju, some 371 kilometers southeast of Seoul, in September.

Gyeongju and its surrounding areas have been suffering from a number of aftershocks since then, raising concerns over possible radioactive accidents in the region where many nuclear power plants are located.

The ministry said it will spend 38.8 billion won in carrying out geological surveys on the country's entire active faults, with research on the southeast region to be finished by 2020.

Some 8.6 billion won was earmarked to integrate and upgrade the country's earthquake alert system, while 20.3 billion won will be used to establish up-to-date seismometers, which can issue a quake warning within 10 seconds by 2020, from the current 50 seconds.

The government will also pour 174.4 billion won next year to raise the quake-resistant capacity of public facilities, including airports and railways, with the money to be expanded to 241.7 billion won in 2018.

"The government will keep increasing anti-seismic spending in the coming years as South Korea is no longer safe from earthquakes," the finance ministry said. "We will work on setting aside money for quake-proof facilities and geological surveys on a longer-term basis."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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