October 10, 2018 / 9:30 PM / 11 days ago

Earthquake of magnitude 7 hits Papua New Guinea: USGS

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck remote New Britain island in Papua New Guinea on Thursday, the United States Geological Survey said, though there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake hit about 200 km (125 miles) southwest of the town of Rabaul at a depth of almost 40 km, just before 7 a.m. local time (2100 GMT Wednesday).

“We felt the earthquake a bit, but it was not too strong,” Constable Roy Michael told Reuters by phone from Rabaul police station.

He said there was no damage in the town, but officers had not yet been able to contact villages closer to the epicenter.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves less than 0.3 meter high could be expected on coastlines in Papua New Guinea and neighboring Solomon Islands. Australia’s Tsunami Warning Center said its coastlines were not at risk.

The quake was initially recorded with a magnitude of 7.3 but was downgraded. At least two aftershocks with a magnitude greater than 5 shortly followed.

In March, a 6.6 magnitude quake struck nearby and no casualties or damage were reported.

Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s poorest countries, sits on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and is still recovering from a 7.5 quake that hit some 900 km to the west in February, killing at least 100 people.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook, editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish

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