Strong earthquake shakes Papua New Guinea, no tsunami warning

May 16th, 2011 - 4:11 am ICT by BNO News  

ARAWA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (BNO NEWS) — A strong earthquake struck Papua New Guinea on early Monday morning, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The 6.5-magnitude earthquake at 4.37 a.m. local time (1837 GMT Sunday) was centered about 122 kilometers (76 miles) west of Arawa, the capital of the autonomous region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. It struck about 43.2 kilometers (26.8 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The USGS said there was a low likelihood of damage or casualties and estimated that around 2,000 people may have felt ’strong’ shaking. Another 169,000 people are estimated to have perceived light to moderate shaking.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a tsunami as a result of the earthquake. “No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data,” the center said in a bulletin.

Papua New Guinea, close to Indonesia, is 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.

Most recently, on March 11, an enormous 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, generating a large tsunami. The earthquake and the resulting tsunami left at least 14,949 people killed and around 10,000 others remain missing.

Before that, on October 25, a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck just off the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, also on the Pacific Ring of Fire. As a result, a wall of water killed at least 435 people on the islands and impacted more than 20 villages.

On December 26, 2004, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the west coast of Sumatra. The 9.1-magnitude earthquake unleashed a deadly tsunami, striking scores of countries. In all, at least 227,898 people were killed.

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