August 30, 2008 / 7:43 AM / 9 years ago

Strong quake rattles Papua New Guinea

2 Min Read

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A magnitude 6.2 earthquake rattled the second largest town in the Pacific islands nation of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, with witnesses saying it lasted several seconds and shook buildings.

The quake, centered on land about 80 km (50 miles) northeast of the north coast city of Lae, hit at 4:54 p.m. (10:54 a.m. EDT) and was about 30 km deep, Geoscience Australia seismologist Clive Collins told Reuters.

There were no immediate reports of damage in Lae, but news from outlying villages can take days to reach authorities in PNG, a mountainous tropical country of about 6 million people on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea.

"We haven't heard any reports of any damage," Collins said.

Magnitude 6 quakes are capable of causing severe damage, but they are relatively common in PNG, which lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense seismic activity.

A police spokesman in Lae, which has a population of about 120,000, said there had been no reports of damage, but it could be another day before they had checked with all the local villages.

Witness Anna Ring said the quake was clearly felt in Lae, where she works for a local hotel.

"It was a big one. It lasted several seconds, but then everything was fine again," she told Reuters from Lae, adding there were no reports of damage in the city.

Another witness, Scholly Basiou, said the quake was quite powerful. "It just shook the whole building," she said. "But we haven't had any reports of damage in Lae."

Reporting by James Grubel; Editing by Alex Richardson

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