Speculation that North Korea has carried a nuclear test has followed a seismic event in an area where previous tests had taken place.

The United States Geological Survey said a 2.9 magnitude quake with a depth of 5km had been recorded 23km north-east of Sungjibaegam on Thursday (12 October) which was used before for nuclear drills.

A statement on the US Geological Survey website reads: "This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests.

"The event has earthquake like characteristics, however, we cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature of the event."

Previous tests had caused stronger quakes, with all of them stronger than 4.3 magnitude. In September, it detonated a hydrogen bomb which caused a 6.3 magnitude quake in the northeast of the country where the Punggye-ri test site is located.

Fox News reported that the absence of two key officials in North Korea's nuclear programme during public events this week, which may suggest that another test was imminent.

Ri Man-gon, supervisor of the department for the nuclear and missile development, and Kim Rak-gyom, the head of the strategic rocket forces, were absent from a mass rally in Pyongyang as well as a celebration for the anniversary of the Worker's Party of Korea.

North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong-ho said that Donald Trump had "lit the wick of war" between countries and that the US would be forced to pay with "a hail of fire".

In August, Trump threatened the rogue regime with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued with its nuclear programme, which sparked a threat to attack the US territory of Guam.

In September, Trump told the UN that the US would "totally destroy North Korea" if there was war.

Ballistic missile
North Korea has test-fired at least two medium-range ballistic missiles on 18 MarchReuters