• Strong 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked Papua New Guinea on Monday
  • Followed by 5.7-magnitude aftershock and generated 1.5ft-high tsunami
  • Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said quake could cause 10ft waves
  • But it lifted its warning a few hours later after reporting smaller tsunami
  • No damage/injuries have been reported, officials said Monday afternoon
  • Local tsunami threat was issued in PNG but was no threat to Australia

Louise Cheer for Daily Mail Australia


and
Sophie Jane Evans For Dailymail.com

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 rocked the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Monday, generating a ‘small tsunami’ and frightening locals near its epicenter.

The quake struck at a depth of 65 kilometers (40 miles), about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the town of Kokopo, near Rabaul, at around 10am local time, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

It was followed by a 5.7-magnitude aftershock and a 1.5-foot-high tsunami, which was measured in Rabaul’s harbor, near the quake’s epicenter, said Martin Mose, from the National Disaster Center.

But despite the quake – which was likely felt by people up to a staggering 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away – and the subsequent tsunami, no damage nor injuries have been reported, officials said.

Quake: This photo, released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows a shakemap of the region (white cross) in Papua New Guinea where a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit Monday

Quake: This photo, released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows a shakemap of the region (white cross) in Papua New Guinea where a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit Monday

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had warned the quake could cause tsunami waves of up to 10 feet in parts of Papua New Guinea, and waves of less than one foot in other Pacific countries.

It said ‘hazardous tsunami waves were possible for coasts located within 1,000 km of the earthquake epicentre along the coasts of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands’.

But the center lifted the warning a few hours later, after reporting a one-inch tsunami wave was measured at a wharf in the Solomon Islands, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) from the epicenter.

A Geoscience Australia spokesman told Daily Mail Australia on Monday that while a tsunami warning had been issued for Papua New Guinea, there was no threat to Australia at the time.

Target: The quake struck at a depth of 65 kilometers (40 miles), about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the town of Kokopo, near Rabaul (pictured), at around 10am local time, the U.S. Geological Survey reported

Target: The quake struck at a depth of 65 kilometers (40 miles), about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the town of Kokopo, near Rabaul (pictured), at around 10am local time, the U.S. Geological Survey reported

Frightening incident: The quake was followed by a 5.7-magnitude aftershock and a 1.5-foot-high tsunami, which was measured in Rabaul's harbor, near the quake's epicenter. Above, another shakemap of the region

Frightening incident: The quake was followed by a 5.7-magnitude aftershock and a 1.5-foot-high tsunami, which was measured in Rabaul’s harbor, near the quake’s epicenter. Above, another shakemap of the region

‘We’ve had no reports of a tsunami being generated for local region at this stage,’ he said.

In Rabaul, residents noticed the sea level rose slightly, prompting ocean water to flood the parking lot of a shopping center near the beach, said Mika Tuvi, an employee at the Rabaul Hotel. 

‘But nothing beyond that – no damage caused,’ she said.

When the quake struck, guests and workers at the hotel fled outside, fearing the building would collapse, Ms Tuvi said. The tremors, which lasted for about 5 minutes, were frightening in their intensity, but the hotel withstood the shaking, she said.

 Location: The quake hit about 10am local time Monday and a tsunami warning has been issued in the region

 Location: The quake hit about 10am local time Monday and a tsunami warning has been issued in the region

No threat: On Monday, Geoscience Australia said there was no immediate threat to Australia

No threat: On Monday, Geoscience Australia said there was no immediate threat to Australia

Officials in the capital, Port Moresby, were working to contact their counterparts in the outer provinces, but hours after the quake, there still had been no reports of damage or injuries.

Mr Mose said he was confident the nation had averted a major catastrophe.

The quake caused strong shaking and knocked items off shelves in Kokopo, and was felt 500 miles away in Port Moresby, said Chris McKee, assistant director of the Geophysical Observatory.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea. The country lies on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim. 

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