Earthquake Rocks Papua New Guinea

Considerable damage may have resulted from a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, April 17, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Earthquakes have been in the news, and some reports point to various man-made factors, such as wastewater injection, as reasons why the quakes  and resulting tsunamis seem to be popping up more frequently.

The 6.8 earthquake that hit Papua New Guinea was determined to be five miles deep, and rumbled 19 KM east of Aitape, a tiny town on the Pacific nation's north coast with a population of 8,000.

AFP News reports that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a destructive tsunami warning, which is significant, as earthquakes of this magnitude can generate local tsunamis within 100 KM from the quake's epicenter.

"Authorities in the region should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action," the USGS said.

Approximately 60,000 people were in the "exposure zone" of the earthquake, according to Geoscience Australia.

"This would include outlying local villages," seismologist Steve Tatham told AFP. "At this stage we have heard nothing about the effect but it is quite large and there would have been a high level of shaking. There is the possibility of considerable damage. It certainly could bring buildings down."

Known as the Pacific "Ring of Fire" for its being a veritable "hot spot" for seismic activity, Papua New Guinea regularly experiences such earthquakes. This is due to friction between the area's tectonic plates.

In 1998, nearly 2,000 people near Aitape lost their lives to a giant tsunami. Bougainville Island, also in the Papua New Guinea vicinity, also experienced a large earthquake — 6.6 magnitude — on Sunday, April 14.

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