Thursday, March 22, 2012

Strong earthquake jolts Papua New Guinea, no damage reports

GOROKA, Papua New Guinea (BNO NEWS) -- A strong earthquake struck the island of New Guinea in Papua New Guinea on early Thursday morning, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.
The 6.7-magnitude earthquake at 8:15 a.m. local time (2215 GMT Wednesday) was centered about 63 kilometers (39 miles) east-southeast of Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province in the Oceanian country. It struck about 105.9 kilometers (65.8 miles) deep, making it an earthquake with intermediate depth, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the region, but the USGS estimated that approximately 147,000 people near the epicenter may have felt 'strong' shaking which could result in light to moderate damage. Another 3.5 million people may have felt light to moderate shaking.
Because the earthquake struck fairly deep and on land, no tsunami warnings were issued. "A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin.
Earthquakes in the mountainous nation of Papua New Guinea, which is on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', do rarely cause damage or casualties as most structures in the region are light and flexible. This allows them to bend, rather than snap when a major earthquake happens.
In December 2011, a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Wau in Morobe province. The earthquake was felt as far away as the capital Port Moresby, about 221 kilometers (137 miles) south-southeast of the epicenter, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.
In July 1998, a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the north coast of the country's island of New Guinea, causing a landslide which resulted in a local tsunami. The disaster left at least 2,183 people killed and thousands more injured

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