may last for 2 months

Prepared for internet by Vietnamese Missionaries in Taiwan

Taipei, Sept. 26, 1999 - Seismologists reiterated their warning that major aftershocks from Taiwan's devastating earthquake could continue to rock the island for up to two months.

"More quakes with a magnitude of five and above on the Richter scale can be expected to occur in the next one to two months," Lu Pei-lin, deputy director of Taiwan's Seismology Center, told AFP.

The warning came as a fresh tremor of 6.8 hit central Taiwan Sunday Sept. 26, 1999 killing at least three people and causing more building collapses, the third tremor on such a scale to rock the island since Tuesday Sep. 21, 1999.

"We don't rule out the possibility of further quakes with magnitude of 6.8 and above occuring in the coming week.

"We predict further quakes with a magnitude of six and above will hit the island within the next two weeks."

As at 11 am Sunday Sept. 26, 1999, more than 7,339 aftershocks had rocked Taiwan since Tuesday Sept. 21,1999's 7.6 Richter-scale earthquake, an average of almost one a minute, eight of which measured six and above on the Richter scale.

Lu said the main origin of the continuing aftershocks was the faultline in Nantou county where Tuesday Sept. 21,1999's quake struck before dawn Tuesday, claiming more than 2,000 lives.

The island staddles a mojor faultline on the western edge of the Pacific "rim of fire," leaving it vulnerable to scores of tremors each year.

Wang Chen-sung, a professor at national Taiwan Ocean University, said there could be more large quakes in the near term but they would not be bigger than the main quake.

"It's almost impossible that another earthquake of 7.6 could occur," he said.

However, seismologists have warned that the location of Tuesday Sept. 21,1999's earthquake was a surprise and that two other faultlines crossing the island had been deemed more likely to produce tremors.

Seismologists have said there were mojor earthquake areas in Taiwan: Chiayi, Miaoli and Ilan in the Northeast, where quakes of more than 6.0 are recorded at the epicenter around 50 kilometers off shore about seven times a year.

According to the observed quake cycles, they expected shattering quakes to strike in the southwest county of Chiayi county and the northwest county of Miaoli.

With the major quake cycle for Chiayi county, in the southwest, estimated at 30 to 50 years, Chiayi was widely predicted to be the next target for a big tremor: it was last hit by a quake of over 7.0 on the Richter scale in 1941, killing 358 people.

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