7.2-magnitude quake hits Papua New Guinea, no early damage reports

There are estimated to be around 110,000 people living within 50km of the earthquake's epicentre, according to UN data.
There are estimated to be around 110,000 people living within 50km of the earthquake's epicentre, according to UN data.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM EARTHQUAKE.USGS.GOV

PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (AFP) - A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Papua New Guinea on Tuesday (May 7) at a depth of 127km, officials said, although there were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake struck 33km from the town of Bulolo at 9.19pm GMT (5.24am Singapore time) according to the US Geological Survey, and was felt in the capital Port Moresby, about 250km away.

Because of the depth of the epicentre, there is no tsunami threat, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

There are estimated to be around 110,000 people living within 50km of the epicentre, according to UN data.

The Moresby-based National Disaster Management office said there had been no immediate reports of damage but news from the quake zone could take time to trickle in.

"We are awaiting assessments," a spokesman told AFP.

The country's rugged highlands region was hit by a 7.5-magnitude quake in February last year that buried homes and triggered landslides, killing at least 125 people.

The scale of that disaster did not become apparent for days due to PNG's poor communications and infrastructure.

There are regular earthquakes in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire - a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.