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Earthquake strikes off Papua New Guinea coast

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale has been reported off Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has warned of the possibility of hazardous waves, but no major damage has been reported.

The earthquake struck at 9.49 a.m. local time Monday (2349 UTC Sunday) in the New Ireland region of Papua New Guinea.

It struck in the sea about 54 kilometers (33 miles) southeast of Kokopo at a depth of 33 kilometers according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The US geological survey put its depth at 40 kilometers and magnitude at 7.5.

However, several hours after the quake there were no reports of major damage or a destructive tsunami.

Earlier, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cautioned that tsunami waves were possible for coasts within 1000 kilometers (620 miles) of the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Map of the region around Papua New Guinea

People near the coast in a 1000 kilometer radius from PNG have been urged to stay alert

While no destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was expected, the Center urged caution in coastal regions stretching from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to the northern cape of New Zealand, Sydney Australia and eastern Japan, as well as dozens of pacific islands.

"Persons located in threatened coastal areas should stay alert for information and follow instructions from national and local authorities," the Center said.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which is situated on the "Pacific Ring of Fire," a hotspot for seismic activity.

se/bw (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)