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6.7 magnitude earthquake hits Papua New Guinea

US agency says underwater temblor poses no tsunami threat for island nation

Two Nepalese search and rescue team members watch a US team work at the site of a collapsed building in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015. (Photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)
Two Nepalese search and rescue team members watch a US team work at the site of a collapsed building in Kathmandu on April 30, 2015. (Photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

WASHINGTON — A 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck New Britain island off Papua New Guinea Thursday, 131 kilometers (81 miles) southwest of the town of Kokopo, US seismologists said.

The quake hit the island at 1045 GMT, northeast of mainland Papua. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said “a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected.”

The quake hit at a depth of 48.9 kilometers and the US Geological Survey initially reported the earthquake’s magnitude at 6.8, but later revised its strength.

The epicenter was 680 kilometers from Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby.

New Britain is the largest island of the Bismarck Archipelago, east of mainland New Guinea, and has a population of around 500,000 people.

The island lies on the 4,000-kilometer long Pacific Australia plate, which forms part of the “Ring of Fire,” a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

A 7.5-magnitude quake hit the region on March 30, some 55 kilometers from Kokopo, without triggering a tsunami, though the tremor sent startled residents fleeing from their homes.

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