SYDNEY (AFP) – A quake of at least 6.0 magnitude struck Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey and Australian seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was immediately issued.
The USGS said the quake hit the New Britain region at around 7:00 pm (0900 GMT) at a depth of 73 kilometres (45 miles), 430 kilometres north-northeast of the capital Port Moresby.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, based in Hawaii, which monitors violent ocean movements generated by quakes, issued no warning and no alert.
Australian seismologists put the deep coastal tremor at magnitude 6.1, but said that it was unlikely to cause significant numbers of injuries or major damage in the sparsely populated region.
“There’s no threat of tsunami,” Geoscience Australia seismologist Clive Collins told AFP, adding that the nearest town to the quake site, Kandrian, was about 70 kilometres away.
“There might be some local village (affected) — people in the immediate vicinity would have felt it,” he said of the tremor which had its epicentre on the coast and would have mostly affected nearby shallow waters.
Papua New Guinea, which is mired in poverty despite rich mineral deposits, sits on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates and quakes are frequent.
But because the mountainous nation has remote and sparsely unpopulated areas, large quakes often cause very little damage, Collins said.
Two recent quakes of 7.0 and 7.1 magnitude in the same region as Tuesday’s quake had caused only three deaths in total — all when the same building collapsed, he said.
“For such large earthquakes the damage was very small because the area is so sparsely populated,” he said.