Powerful quake hits Papua New Guinea, tsunami alert issued

Solomon Islands are seen in this image from Google

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A strong 7.5 magnitude quake hit off the coast of Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, with hazardous tsunami waves possible, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. It was centred at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres, it said.

The quake had triggered a tsunami alert for the country and the nearby Solomon Islands, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later said the tsunami threat passed.

Kokopo town has a rapidly grown population of more than 20,000. "The time between wave crests can vary from 5 minutes to an hour". What's more, the waves could even make it to Japan.

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It comes about a year after an quake of the same magnitude left at least 125 people dead in the country's central region.

Earthquakes in the mountainous nation, which is on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", do rarely cause damage or casualties because many structures in the region are light and flexible.

They said in an alert: "An quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.7 occurred in the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea at 12:58 UTC". That quake hit areas that are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out.

"This geologically active region, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, not only hosts erupting volcanoes but also produces megathrust earthquakes capable of generating devastating, ocean-crossing tsunamis". Earthquakes tend to happen when those plates scrape or subside underneath each other, and when that happens at sea it can spawn tsunamis.

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