A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Papua New Guinea’s northern coast Wednesday morning, causing residents who feared a tsunami to seek higher ground.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the quake struck at approximately 8:55 am 11 miles east of the country’s coastal town of Aitape. The CS Monitor reports the temblor was felt as far away as the town of Vanimo, some 89 miles from the epicenter.
Witnesses say the tremor lasted for about three minutes and knocked stock off the shelves. There were no initial reports of damage or injuries.
“They were all running around the street,” Max Kamave at the Aitape Resort Hotel told ABC News. “They were frightened maybe the sea will come up.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no widespread threat of a tsunami but warned quakes of this size could sometimes generate local tsunami waves within 62 miles of the epicenter.
“Authorities in the region should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action,” it said.
Wikipedia notes Papua New Guinea is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
In 1998, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake on the northern coast generated a large tsunami that swamped Aitape and several other villages, killing about 2,200 people.
Wednesday’s Papa New Guinea quake comes on the heels of a 7.8 magnitude temblor that struck Iran Tuesday, killing close to 40 people in neighboring Pakistan.