6.6-magnitude earthquake rocks Papua New Guinea

AFP-JIJI

A 6.6-magnitude earthquake shook northern Papua New Guinea on Wednesday in a region where a huge tsunami killed more than 2,000 people in 1998, but reports suggested the area escaped serious damage.

The quake, at a depth of just 13 km, hit 23 km east of Aitape, a town with a population of around 8,000 on the Pacific nation’s north coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

“We are aware of the earthquake off Aitape in Papua New Guinea. There have been no reports of serious damage or injury,” a spokeswoman from Australia’s foreign office said.

No destructive tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but it cautioned that earthquakes of this size could sometimes generate local tsunami waves.

Geoscience Australia said around 60,000 people would be in the exposure zone.