7 dead after massive earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea in Southwest Pacific
The magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck at 9:45 a.m. local time Sunday about 50 miles northwest of the city of Lae. It was felt around the country, including in the national capital Port Moresby, where moderate to severe shaking was felt for over a minute.
At least seven deaths have been reported after a massive earthquake struck Papua New Guinea in the Southwest Pacific.
The magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck at 9:45 a.m. local time Sunday about 50 miles northwest of the city of Lae at a depth of about 38 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey. It was felt around the country, including in the national capital Port Moresby, where moderate to severe shaking was felt for over a minute.
Reports on social media also showed falling structures or debris and damage to hospitals, homes, roads and highways.
A second earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 happened at 10:42 a.m. local time Sunday, about 45 miles northwest of the epicenter of the previous quake.
The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center had issued a warning against a possible tsunami triggered by the quake, but it was later canceled.
On Sunday, the island's Police Commissioner David Manning confirmed the death toll now stands at seven people.
The tremors from the earthquake caused landslides that damaged buildings and roads. The commissioner said the landslides claimed the lives of seven people.
"Sadly, seven people have been confirmed dead as a result of these landslides. Three in Kabwum District and three in Wau Town, Morobe Province, and one in Rai Coast, Madang Province," the commissioner said in a statement.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Asia and the Pacific said one death was reported in Rai Coast and three others in Wau and Morobe. All the victims were buried in landslides. A medical evacuation of four people was performed from Nankina in Rai Coast.
A hydropower station in Eastern Highlands was also damaged, resulting in a total system outage across multiple provinces.
The most significant damage has been reported in the districts of Morobe, Eastern Highlands and Madang provinces, according to the Royal Papua New Guinea commissioner.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred due to normal faulting near the northern edge of the Australia plate.
Papua New Guinea experiences a high rate of seismic activity, with 78 events of magnitude 6-plus occurring near the area in the last 50 years. In 1989, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred about 15 miles away from Saevent.