17 Apr 2013

No damage reported after large PNG quake

4:51 pm on 17 April 2013

Reports from Papua New Guinea suggest that no major damage has occurred after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck off the country's northern coast this morning.

The quake's epicentre was 19 kilometres east of the town of Aitape in West Sepik province, near the Indonesian border, and was seven kilometres deep.

No tsunami warning was issued after the quake.

The country director for Oxfam in PNG, Dennis Uba, says staff at the aid agency's office in the provincial capital, Wewak, reported significant shaking and people running to the higher ground in fear.

"Most of them felt the earthquake for about 5 to 6 minutes but upon quick check of the town and some of our partners in Sepik province, no major damage has occurred. We were particularly concerned about Boram in Wewak town because in the Japanese earthquake sea rise over a year ago, there was some significant damage at the hospital but it's good to know that no major damage was reported."

Dennis Uba says today's tremor stirred memories of a giant earthquake in the same area in 1998, which triggered a 10-metre tsunami that killed more than 2,000 people.