Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strong 6.6-magnitude quake hits Papua New Guinea

Posted: 10 March 2011 0653 hrs

SYDNEY: A remote region of Papua New Guinea was rattled by a strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Thursday, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage or of a tsunami.

The US Geological Survey said the tremor was centred under rugged terrain 27 kilometres northeast of the small town of Kandrian on New Britain island.

"People in the area would have felt strong shaking, but this quake occurred in an area where population density is low, it's just scattered communities," Chris McKee, of Papua New Guinea's Geophysical Observatory told AFP.

"There have been no reports of damage that we have received," said McKee, assistant director for geohazard management at the observatory.

The quake, which struck at a depth of 43 kilometres, may have been part of a sequence of powerful quakes that have been rattling the New Britain region since last year, he added.

The impoverished Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea sits on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates and quakes are frequent.

But large quakes seldom cause serious damage in the mountainous nation, which has remote and sparsely populated areas and where buildings are light and flexible and are able to bend rather than snap when a quake hits.

No tsunami was thought to have been generated by the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said.

"No destructive widespread tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," it said in a bulletin.

- AFP/de

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