Powerful earthquake hits northern coast of Papua New Guinea

A powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit the northern coast of Papua New Guinea on Thursday night, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. According to the U.S. Geological Survey Web site, the temblor hit at 0901 GMT about 125 kilometers (80 miles) east southeast of the town of Madang, a popular scuba diving and resort town.

An official at the National Disaster Management Office, who refused to be named, saying he was not authorized to be quoted, said he had no information on the quake, which the U.S.G.S. site said was centered 218 kilometers (135 miles) underground in a region where two tectonic plates meet and which regularly experiences earthquakes and tremors.

Sgt. Toby Kamseboda of Madang police said in a telephone interview that residents barely noticed the quake. "We just felt it a bit, not much," he said. "There's no damage up here." In 1998, a tsunami caused by an undersea earthquake killed at least 2,000 people when it struck the north coast of Papua New Guinea's main island, wiping out dozens of coastal villages.

Papua New Guinea, an impoverished nation of 5 million people, lies immediately north of Australia. In September, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit near the province of New Ireland, 870 kilometers (540 miles) northeast of the South Pacific island nation's capital Port Moresby, but there were no reports of any injuries, reports the AP. N.U.

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