Powerful earthquakes strike Papua New Guinea, tsunami warning canceledJuly 18th, 2010 - 11:03 pm ICT by BNO News
PORT MORESBY (BNO NEWS) — Two powerful earthquakes struck the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea on late Sunday evening, seismologists said, briefly sparking a local tsunami warning for Indonesia.
The first earthquake at 11.04 p.m. local time (1304 GMT), with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale, was centered about 75 kilometers (45 miles) south-southeast of Kimbe, the capital of the province of West New Britain. It struck about 57.5 kilometers (35.7 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency of Indonesia.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured the strength of the earthquake at 6.9 on the Richter scale.
A second earthquake at 11.35 p.m. local time (1335 GMT), with a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale, struck about 107 kilometers (67 miles) east-northeast of Kandrian on New Britain. It struck approximately 26 kilometers (16.1 miles) deep, according to the Indonesian agency.
The USGS measured the strength of the second earthquake at 7.3 on the Richter scale.
After the second earthquake hit, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency immediately issued a local tsunami warning for Indonesia. The agency canceled the warning about an hour later, and no tsunami waves were reported.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no widespread tsunami threat based on historical earthquake and tsunami data. It later said in a bulletin that a tsunami had been generated, but quickly retracted the statement and said it was issued in error.
The USGS estimated some 10,000 people likely perceived ‘very strong’ shaking as a result of the first earthquake, which could result in moderate to heavy damage. “Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” the agency said.
The agency further estimated that approximately 101,000 people likely perceived strong shaking, which could result in light to moderate damage. Some 522,000 others perceived weak to moderate shaking.
For the second earthquake, the USGS estimated that approximately 12,000 people likely perceived ‘very strong’ shaking, while 106,000 others perceived strong shaking. Some 518,000 others likely perceived weak to moderate shaking.
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties as a result of the earthquakes.
Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently.
On February 8, 1987, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck approximately 316 kilometers (196 miles) west of Sunday’s earthquakes. In that earthquake, three people were killed in a resulting landslide on the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea.
On December 21, 1983, ten people were killed when a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck approximately 169 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Sunday’s earthquakes.
And in 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Sumatra, unleashing gigantic tsunamis that killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was one of the deadliest disasters in recorded history.
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