6.8 earthquake: Strong, shallow quake shakes Papua New Guinea

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook the South Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea about 12 hours after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed dozens in Iran and Pakistan.

United States Geological Survey
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the northern boundary of Papua New Guinea at 8:55 a.m. local time April 17th (6:55 p.m. EST on April 16th). The epicenter was only 8.1 miles deep (13.0 km), making the 6.8 earthquake a shallow one in geological terms.

A powerful earthquake shook Papua New Guinea's northern coast Wednesday morning, but there was no threat of a widespread tsunami in the Pacific.

The shallow magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck about 19 kilometers (11 miles) east of the small town of Aitape, where disaster authorities have not been able to contact people yet.

It's possible that residents headed to higher ground as soon as they felt the earthquake and were not immediately reachable, said Chris McKee, the assistant director of the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby.

He said there were no reports or indications of a tsunami.

He said people in the town of Vanimo, about 145 kilometers (89 miles) from the epicenter reported they had felt the quake strongly. There were no initial reports of damage or injuries.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, based on historical data, a quake of this strength has the potential to generate localized tsunamis within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of 13 kilometers (8 miles), which is relatively shallow. Shallow quakes can potentially cause more damage at the surface.

Papua New Guinea is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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