Updated: 04/18/2013 17:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Papua New Guinea quake damage fears subside

Seismologists in Papua New Guinea said Thursday there was no major damage from a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that sparked fears for a region where 2,000 people died in a 1998 tsunami.


Papua New Guinea quake damage fears subside

Graphic showing the epicentre of a 6.6-magnitude quake that hit Papua New Guinea on Wednesday. The quake, at a depth of just 13 kilometres (eight miles), hit 23 km east of the small town of Aitape, with a population of around 8,000 on the Pacific nation's north coast, the US Geological Survey said.

The tremor shook the small and isolated town of Aitape and other areas in the Pacific nation's north on Wednesday but concerns there could be widespread damage failed to materialise.

"We contacted people in the Aitape region and there was no tsunami and no real damage," said Chris McKee from the PNG National Disaster Centre.

"It was important to establish that there was no tsunami after 1998," he said, referring to a huge tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people in Aitape that year, sweeping away churches, schools and other buildings.

He added that no aftershocks had been recorded in the area.

"That's unusual for a 6.6 quake, but good news," he said.

Quakes of such magnitude are common in impoverished PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

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