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Massive but deep earthquake below Eastern Papua New Guinea – main concern : landslides

December 14, 2011

Earthquake overview :A strong but very deep earthquake happened at 03:04 PM (15:04) below eastern Papua New Guinea. The depth of the earthquake will have weakened the shaking even just above the epicenter. Our main concern are possible landslides.


A 7.1 magnitude earthquake has hit Papua New Guinea on a day of political upheaval.

The quake hit 221 kilometres north of the capital Port Moresby at about 4.04pm (AEST) on Wednesday.

Seismologists from the US Geographical Survey have downgraded the quake from an earlier report of 7.3 magnitude.

The quake occurred at a depth of 115 kilometres and coincided with a three-day stand off between Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill over who is the legitimate prime minister.

There have been no immediate reports of quake damage.

The Bureau of Meteorology says there is no tsunami threat to Australia’s mainland, islands or territories.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Clive Collins told AAP aftershocks were expected, given the size of the earthquake.

Mr Collins said the town of Wau, with a population of about 5000, was the closest to the quake – only 20 kilometres away.

He said it was expected that there would be damage to small villages and there may have been landslides.

The quake occurred in a remote mountainous region, 40km inland from the coast.

“There’s no reports of people losing lives yet,” he said.

The quake could be felt by people 1523km away.

An AAP correspondent reported that the windows of the parliament building at Port Moresby shook for more than a minute, however there appeared to be no damage.

A Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) spokeswoman told AAP there were no reports of Australians injured in the quake.

She said the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby is liaising with the Honorary Consul in Lae to check on local infrastructure damage.

Australian miner Newcrest has a joint venture silver and gold open pit mine in the Morobe Province near Wau where the quake hit.

A spokeswoman for Newcrest Mining told AAP, mine workers on site were OK and no equipment had been damaged.

She said it hadn’t disrupted mining operations.

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