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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AFP) – An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 struck off the remote New Ireland area of Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, triggering a local tsunami warning, US scientists said.
The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 12:19 am (1419 GMT Tuesday), was located 95 kilometres (60 miles) south-southeast of the town of Taron, New Ireland, the US Geological Survey said. It took place at a depth of 35 kilometres.
A "destructive Pacific-wide tsunami" was not expected but "earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometres of the earthquake epicentre", the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said in a bulletin.
Authorities in the region of the epicentre should take appropriate action, it added.
Papua New Guinea sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where continental plates meet. The region is frequently rocked by earthquakes.
The quake hit at 11:28 a.m. and was centered 24 miles northwest of Willow. Lasting several seconds, the temblor could be felt as far away as Homer and Fairbanks, a stretch of 400 miles.
The earthquake was "pretty deep," said Cindi Preller, geologist with the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. It originated 32 miles below the Earth's surface.
"I almost had a customer run out the door," said waitress Jolene Pate, who was waiting tables at a diner about 30 miles north of the epicenter. "The hanging lamp shades were swinging."
Sensors initially logged a magnitude 5.7, but as more data came in, seismologists downgraded it to 5.4. Several brief aftershocks continued into the afternoon; one registered as high as 4.0.