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Nature and EnvironmentPapua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea: 7.6 magnitude quake kills three

September 11, 2022

A tsunami warning previously issued after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in eastern Papua New Guinea has been withdrawn.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program location of where the arthquake took place
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake took place at a depth of around 50 to 60 kilometersImage: USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in eastern Papua New Guinea killed at least three people, authorities said on Sunday. It also damaged buildings, caused power outages and triggered landslides.   

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS) the quake hit at a depth of around 50 to 60 kilometers (30 to 40 miles) located 67 kilometers (42 miles) east of Kainantu, a sparsely populated area.

It occurred at 9:46 am local time (23:46 GMT).

The US tsunami warning system had issued a warning shortly after the quake was reported but then later removed it. It issued an advisory regarding "minor sea level fluctuations in some coastal areas".

There were damages to buildings and power outages in parts of the country.

'People and houses buried and destroyed' by quake

In the remote mountain village of Matoko one person was killed after getting buried in a mud fall and several others seriously injured, said Kessy Sawang, a member of parliament.

She said there are fears of more injuries and deaths amid reports of "people and houses buried and destroyed."

People living close to the epicenter said that the tremors were comparatively stronger than earlier quakes. 

Hivi Apokore, a resident of the coastal town Madang, said the earthquake was "very strong". "Everything was like sitting on a sea — just floating." 

Prime Minister James Marape expressed concern and asked people to head to higher ground after people reported that the sea level had suddenly dropped.

"My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected…."National and provincial disaster agencies, as well as leaders, have been asked to assess the damage and injuries to people and attend to these as soon as possible," the PM said.

Region of high seismic activity

Papua New Guinea is located on the Pacific's Ring of Fire — one of the most tectonically active areas in the world where about 90 percent of all earthquakes strike. 

It experiences more than 100 earthquakes of magnitude five or greater each year.

In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake killed at least 125 people in the region.

ss/kb (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)