Powerful earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea

Cracked land is seen after an earthquake and aftershocks in Papua New Guinea in 2018. — Reuters
  • Tremors injure people, damage property and cause widespread panic among residents.
  • US tsunami warning system issues threat alert quake; later says threat had passed.
  • Residents take to social media and share images and videos of damaged infrastructure. 

An earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck Papua New Guinea on Sunday, reportedly injuring people, damaging property and spreading widespread panic among residents.

The quake, 80 km (49.7 miles) deep, hit the eastern Papua New Guinea region at about 9:45 am local time (2345 GMT Saturday), but the shaking was felt as far as the capital of Port Moresby, about 500 km (310 miles) away.

The US tsunami warning system issued a tsunami warning after the quake but it later said the threat had passed. There was no immediate tsunami threat to Australia, its Bureau of Meteorology said.

Papua New Guinea residents took to social media sharing images and videos of cracked roads, damaged buildings and cars, and items falling off supermarket shelves.

The extent of damage was not immediately clear as the location was remote. But local media reports said at least one person had died and there were unconfirmed reports of buried houses and widespread damage.

Reuters could not independently verify these reports.

The government was expected to give more details later in the day.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

A magnitude 7.5 quake rocked PNG’s remote mountainous highlands in 2018, killing more 100 people and damaging thousands of homes.

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