One-third of the bridges and overpasses in Seoul are vulnerable to earthquakes, the city government said Tuesday, pledging a total of 132 billion won (US$117 million) until 2015 to prop them up in the wake of a devastating earthquake that has hit neighboring Japan.
The South Korean capital, home to 10 million people, has 348 bridges and overpasses in operation, and 111, or 32 percent, of them need to be reinforced for stability in the event of an earthquake, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a report.
"We have been conducting the reinforcement work since 2005, concentrating first on bridges that are older than others," a Seoul official said. "The lion's share of the work should be completed by 2015."
The official said South Korea only recently made it mandatory for buildings to be designed with potential quakes under consideration. The official, however, said all of the 20 bridges across the Han River, the large waterway that flows through the city, have been evaluated as quake-proof.
South Korea is far less prone to quakes compared to Japan, but experts say the potential of a major quake hitting the peninsula should not be ruled out. The largest quake to hit South Korea in the last decade took place off the east coast in 2004 and had a magnitude of 5.2.
The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rattled Japan continues to trouble the island country and the world, and reports say at least thousands of people have been killed while a greater number are missing. (Yonhap)