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World & Nation

Powerful quake hits Papua New Guinea; tsunami alert issued

A powerful earthquake struck Papua New Guinea late Tuesday evening, triggering a tsunami alert for coastal areas up to 620 miles away.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 7.5 and was 28 miles northeast of Kokopo, a remote town with a population of about 26,000. The quake was centered at a relatively shallow depth of 6 miles, it said.

Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage on the Earth’s surface, but the USGS estimated that damage and injuries would be low because of the area’s sparse population.

The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves of up to 3.3 feet were possible along coastal areas up to 620 miles from the epicenter, including Papua New Guinea and the nearly Solomon Islands. It later said the tsunami threat had largely passed and no waves had been observed, but that there were no sea-level gauges in the area for measurement.

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It said there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii or Guam.

Papua New Guinea is on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, to the east of Indonesia.

It sits on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occurs.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in February 2018 in the nation’s central region killed at least 125 people and forced 35,000 from their homes. That quake hit areas that are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out.

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