N Koreans told to use pets as quake warning: report

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Seoul, Mar 20: North Korea advised its citizens today to use their pets as an early-warning system for earthquakes, amid heightened fears following Japan's quake-tsunami disaster.

Governments worldwide have focused on ensuring their alert systems go some way to protecting them against the horror wreaked by natural disasters such as the massive tremor and giant waves which killed thousands in Japan on Mar 11.

While Pyongyang has also told North Koreans about the technology it has in place to anticipate disasters, state media urged the public to take note when animals behave oddly.

The Sunday edition of Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper of the North's ruling party, and a report yesterday from the official Korean Central New Agency warned that people should beware if they see dogs barking incessantly, cattle refusing to eat or horses constantly trying to storm out of stables.

Evidence of the reliability of animal behaviour in predicting quakes remains mixed, although National Geographic reported after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that many species fled to safety before the catastrophe.

Elephants ran for higher ground, dogs refused to go outdoors and flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas, nationalgeographic.com reported.

"The belief that wild and domestic animals possess a sixth sense -- and know in advance when the earth is going to shake -- has been around for centuries," the magazine said.
It is thought that low-frequency electromagnetic signals may cause animals to behave unusually before an earthquake.

The state-run Korean Central TV station aired a series of programmes last week on how to respond to government quake alerts, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

The programmes detailed how the alerts would be issued via sirens and bells in case of emergency and advised people to evacuate to open spaces such as nearby parks

AFP

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