Shallow 6.9 earthquake hits Papua New Guinea triggering tsunami alert

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Sydney: A powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the New Britain island of Papua New Guinea on Friday, US seismologists said, triggering a tsunami alert for the country.

The quake struck at 5:25 pm and was initially recorded at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres (6 miles), about 162 kilometres from the New Britain town of Rabaul, the US Geological Survey said. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said “hazardous” waves could be generated by the quake.

“Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters above the tide level are possible for some coasts of Papua New Guinea,” it said in an alert. It said smaller waves could also hit the Solomon Islands.

The earthquake was quickly followed by two powerful smaller tremors, measuring 5.3 and 5.1, both at a depth of 35 kilometres, the Pacific nation was hit by a 7.5-magnitude quake on February 26 that buried homes and triggered landslides in its highlands region, killing at least 125 people.

PNG sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates. Its mountainous and remote terrain means it often takes several days for information about damage from quakes to reach officials and aid agencies.

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