Another Strong Earthquake Strikes Near Bougainville, PNG

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String of powerful quakes so far does little damage

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 20, 2014) – A magnitude-7.5 earthquake has struck off Papua New Guinea, prompting a tsunami warning to be briefly issued for the Pacific Island nation and neighbouring Solomon Islands.

The quake struck 68 kilometres south-west of Panguna on the island of Bougainville, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The USGS, revising down the magnitude from an initial 7.8, said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

A tsunami warning was issued for PNG and the Solomon Islands by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, but it later cancelled the alert.

The Pacific Warning Centre said there was no threat to neighbouring Australia or other countries across the Pacific Ocean.

A magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck off PNG's Bougainville Island earlier on Saturday, but there were no reports of damage.

Recent cluster of earthquakes

At least six strong tremors have hit near Bougainville in the past week, including a powerful magnitude-7.5 quake on April 14 that triggered a local tsunami alert.

Those jolts were felt locally but there were no reports of significant damage from remote and isolated Bougainville, which sits between the island of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

"Certainly it has been very active, more active than usual," said Jonathan Bathgate, a seismologist at Geoscience Australia.

"[The spate of earthquakes] is relieving some pressure on this fault line, but we can't rule out another large earthquake."

Mr Bathgate says the latest quake would have been felt strongly on Bougainville and nearby islands, but given its position on the so-called Ring of Fire in the Pacific, where earthquakes are frequent, extensive damage was unlikely.

In 1998, a magnitude-7 earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit villages near Aitape on PNG's north coast, killing more than 2,000 people.

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