Earthquakes hit east Papua New Guinea, west Indonesia

JAKARTA – A 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit off eastern Papua New Guinea on Sunday, with locals reporting damage to buildings near the town of Madang and further inland.

The US Geological Survey, which reported the quake, issued a tsunami warning but subsequently said the threat “has now passed”.

It did, however, note that there could still be “minor sea level fluctuations in some coastal areas”.

Locals in Madang who spoke to AFP said they felt “very strong shaking”. There were reports of damage to buildings.

The quake struck at a depth of 61km, about 67km from the town of Kainantu, the USGS said.

In neighbouring Indonesia, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Sunday, the country’s geophysics agency (BMKG) said.

There was no danger of tsunami.

The quake was at a depth of 27km and was followed by one of magnitude 5.3 in the same area, BMKG reported.

A 5.4-magnitude aftershock followed 14 minutes later, it added.

Local online media said one person was injured in the head by falling wood.

Papua New Guinea and Indonesia straddle the Pacific Ring of Fire, where different tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust meet and create frequent seismic activity, causing them to experience frequent earthquakes.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia. AFP, REUTERS