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Small tsunami seen near epicenter of Papua New Guinea quake

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
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SYDNEY >> A powerful earthquake rattled the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, generating a small tsunami near the epicenter, bringing down power lines and cracking walls, but causing no widespread damage.

A tsunami estimated at under 3 feet was seen in the harbor of Rabaul, a town near the epicenter of the 7.5-magnitude quake, said Chris McKee, assistant director of the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby. There were no reports of flooding, as the tsunami didn’t rise beyond the normal level of high tide, McKee said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat to Hawaii or other areas of the Pacific.

The temblor struck at a depth of 26 miles, about 80 miles south of the town of Kokopo in northeastern Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, after issuing varying estimates of the quake’s power.

The earthquake brought down power lines in the Rabaul area, knocking out power to residents and to the local Geophysical Observatory office, McKee said. There were a few reports of structural damage in Kokopo, including cracks in some walls, but no reports of injuries, he said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that tsunami waves of up to  3 feet were possible within 186 miles of the epicenter, but lifted the warning a few hours later. Apart from Rabaul, there were no other reports of unusual wave activity, and any further threat was likely to be minimal, with waves of less than 1 foot predicted, McKee said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered in the same area as two earthquakes that rocked Papua New Guinea last week. The nation sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

A large earthquake off Papua New Guinea did not generate a Pacific-wide tsunami, officials on Oahu said Monday afternoon.

The quake, with a magnitude of 7.5, struck early Tuesday morning near the epicenter, about 82 miles south-southwest of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, at depth of 39 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it posed no tsunami threat to Hawaii. However, hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts of Papua New Guinea. Waves up to 3 feet above the tide level are possible, weather officials said.

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