BUSAN, July 26 (Korea Bizwire) – The Ministry of Public Safety and Security scheduled an emergency safety inspection meeting Tuesday joined by the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, and Korea Gas Safety Corporation, regarding the mysterious gas odor that swept across Busan on July 21 and Ulsan on July 23.
A mysterious gas smell spread across the port city of Busan in the late afternoon on July 21, for approximately two hours between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Over 200 civilian reports were filed, with residents claiming they smelled a gas-like odor, which was apparently travelling from the east towards the west of the city.
Similar reports were made in southern Ulsan two days later, starting at 2:22 p.m. and lasting for about an hour, with residents also claiming that they smelled gas.
It has been five days since the reports in Busan, but the city hasn’t been able to track down the source of the mysterious odor. The city initially suspected four tanker trucks that travelled from east to west on the day of the incident, but an investigation dismissed their involvement. Tankers in coastal waters were also eliminated as potential sources of the smell.
“We seem to have hit a brick wall in our investigation into the cause of the gas smell,” said a Busan city official. “We’ve reported our situation to the Ministry of Public Safety and Security. We’re also considering requesting a police investigation, especially with the public growing anxious.”
With officials failing to provide a plausible explanation for the incident, various rumors are circulating in online communities, with the most prominent identifying the source as an earthquake precursor. Busan and Ulsan detected a 5.0-magnitude underwater earthquake earlier this month, and residents are speculating that the gas smell may be a sign of a potentially larger temblor. A video of a swarm of dead ants at Busan’s Gwangalli Beach last week fanned the flames of fast-spreading whispers.
Experts, however, refuted the claims, saying radon gas emissions that are often associated with upcoming earthquakes are odorless and therefore can’t be associated with the gas smell detected in Busan and Ulsan. Experts also noted that the ant activity is a natural phenomenon found at beaches after the monsoon season.
Other speculation included a North Korean terror attack, unusual emissions from a nearby nuclear power plant, and an anthrax bacterium experiment conducted by the USFK (United States Forces Korea), all adding to the spreading public anxiety.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)