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Powerful earthquake hits off Papua New Guinea

A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Coastal tides were still being monitored, but the threat of a tsunami has receded.

The magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck east of Taron, New Ireland, on Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a tsunami threat warning for regions closer to the epicenter, including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Nauru, Kosrae and Vanuatu. But later in the day the PTWC said the threat had largely passed, although it said government agencies should continue to monitor coastal tides.

 

"Based on all available data ... the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed," the PTWC said in a statement.

The earthquake struck at 8:51 pm local time (10:51 UTC) at a depth of some 103 kilometers (61 miles). Deep earthquakes tend to cause less damage.

It was followed by two aftershocks measuring 6.3 and 5.5 in magnitude, the USGS reported.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the remote region located on the Ring of Fire, a high seismic area around the entire Pacific Ocean.

cw/tj,jm (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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