Powerful earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Shake map of the quake
Image: USGS.

On Sunday, September 11 at 9:46AM local time, (UTC+10), a powerful earthquake struck Papua New Guinea near Kainantu. There were reports of injuries and at least three dead several hours after the quake.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake measured 7.6Mw on the moment magnitude scale. "This could definitely be a damaging earthquake," said Jana Pursley, a geologist with the USGS. She expects damage from the quake to be moderate to severe.

The epicenter was reported to be 41 miles (66 km) east of Kainantu and 56 miles (90 km) below the surface.

Three people were reported killed in the gold-mining town of Wau according to Charley Masange, the disaster director for Morobe Province. Seismologist Felix Taranu, working for the Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby, said the quake "most likely caused considerable damage" though it was too early to assess the total impact.

"It’s a common thing that earthquakes are felt here, but it usually doesn’t last as long and is not as violent as this one," said Renagi Ravu, a local geologist who lives in Kainantu. "It was quite intense." According to Ravu, approximately ten thousand people live in and around the town which is in the New Guinea Highlands.

Papua New Guinea is in the so-called Ring of Fire which sees frequent volcanic activity as well as earthquakes. In 2018, a similarly powerful earthquake struck the highlands killing at least 125 people.