Free Press Journal

Tsunami alert after 7.9-magnitude Papua New Guinea quake


Sydney : Tsunami warnings were issued for several nations on Saturday after a major 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the US Geological Survey said, reports AFP.

The PTWC said hazardous tsunami waves could hit coastal areas of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and others. The earthquake struck 60 km to the east of Taron, New Ireland, at 8.51 pm local time at a depth of some 75 km, the USGS said.

The quake was originally recorded at 8.0 before being revised down to 7.9. “Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking…some casualties and damage are possible,” the USGS said on its website as it issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and losses. But Geoscience Australia seismologist Dan Jaksa downplayed the severity of the quake, noting its depth made the likelihood of a tsunami “low”. “This region of PNG is also pretty remote and very, very sparsely populated,” he added. “There would definitely have been shaking, in fact we logged it as shaking felt as much as 3,400 kilometres away, which would include population centres like Rabaul (on Papua New Guinea’s New Britain island). “But it was far enough away for the shaking to not be strong.”

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence briefly issued a tsunami warning for all of the country’s coast but cancelled the alert after analysing additional data.

A moderate and strong aftershock struck the area of the original quake within the space of an hour, with the USGS reporting 5.5- and 6.3- magnitude quakes at 9.22 pm and 9.27 pm respectively.