Powerful Quake Hits Off Papua New Guinea

The plane was reportedly a charter aircraft and was carrying members of the soccer team Chapecoense from Brazil.

UPDATE: 3:05 a.m. EST — The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), in its final alert, rescinded the tsunami threats following a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea at 4:30 a.m. UTC Sunday (11:30 p.m. EST).

“The tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed,” PTWC said. However, it advised people to remain observant and exercise caution near the sea.

“This will be the final statement issued for this event unless new information is received or the situation change,” PTWC added.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center also said that there is no tsunami threat to Australia, according to Bloomberg. No casualties or damage have been reported as of now.

UPDATE: 1:35 a.m. EST — The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has updated its forecast to say that the tsunami threat following a powerful quake only applies to the coasts of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake had struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea at 4:30 a.m. UTC (11:30 p.m. EST), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea," PTWC said, adding: "No tsunami threat for all other areas."

There was no report of damage from the point of origin of the quake, which is thinly populated, Chris McKee, assistant director at PNG's Geophysical Observatory Office in Port Mores, told Reuters. "Because of the depth of the great depth of the earthquake it is unlikely that there will be any significant tsunami activity," McKee added.

As Papua New Guinea lies in Pacific's "Ring of Fire," a region that is notorious for seismic activity because of friction between tectonic plates, it is quite vulnerable to earthquakes.

UPDATE: 12:33 a.m. EST — The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), in an updated forecast, downgraded the magnitude of the earthquake that struck off the coast of the Solomon Islands at 4:30 a.m. UTC (11:30 p.m. EST) to 7.9, from its preliminary magnitude of 8.4. The U.S. Geological Survey has also updated the magnitude of the quake to 7.9, which it now says hit 41 km (about 25 miles) west-northwest of Panguna, Papua New Guinea, at a depth of 136.0 km.

PTWC said that tsunami waves about 0.3 to 1 meters high may possibly hit the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. It also expanded its list of regions that may likely be hit by tsunami waves measuring less than 0.3 meters.

The regions in this forecast include American Samoa, Australia, Chuuk, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Howland and Baker, Indonesia, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Marianas, Northwester Hawaiian Islands, Palau, Palmyra Island, Ponhnpei, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wake Island, Wallis and Futuna and Yap.

The New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said that it is working on assessing if the earthquake posed any tsunami threat to New Zealand.

Original story:

An earthquake measuring 8.0-magnitude struck 40 km (about 25 miles) west of Panguna in Papua New Guinea at a depth of 153.8 km, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said Sunday.

Although USGS has not issued or confirmed any tsunami warning, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a possible tsunami threat. There are no reports on casualties or damage as of now.

“Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Nauru, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Vanuatu, Chuuk and Indonesia,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

It has also advised people located in the threatened coastal areas to stay alert and added that it will publish an update on the report within an hour.

This is a developing story.

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