7.6 Quake Kills at Least 3 People

Victims died in a landslide in a Papua New Guinea mining town
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 11, 2022 10:10 AM CDT
7.6 Quake Kills 3 in Remote Papua New Guinea
Debris lies strewn across the floor in the kitchen of Renagi Ravu's house in Kainantu, following a strong earthquake Sunday in northeastern Papua New Guinea.   (Renagi Ravu via AP)

At least three people are dead after a powerful earthquake hit a remote part of Papua New Guinea on Sunday morning, authorities say. Others were injured and infrastructure damaged in the magnitude 7.6 jolt that was felt across the Pacific country. The three people died in a landslide in the gold-mining town of Wau, said Morobe Provincial Disaster Director Charley Masange. Other people had been injured from falling structures or debris, and there was damage to some health centers, homes, rural roads, and highways, Masange told the AP. Masange said it could take some time to assess the extent of the injuries and damage. But he said the sparse and scattered population and lack of large buildings near the epicenter in the nation's largely undeveloped highlands may have helped prevent a bigger disaster.

Renagi Ravu, who lives in the town closest to the epicenter, said he was meeting with two colleagues at his home in Kainantu when the quake struck. Ravu tried to stand up from his chair but couldn't maintain his balance and ended up in a kind of group hug with his colleagues, while plates and cups crashed from his shelves to the ground. His children, ages 9 and 2, had their drinks and breakfast spill over. Ravu, who is a geologist, said he tried to calm everybody as the shaking continued for more than a minute. He said people were feeling rattled. "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," Ravu said. He said damage to his home likely included a broken sewer pipe, judging from the smell. He said friends in town had messaged him with descriptions of cracked roads, broken pipes, and fallen debris.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 2018 in the nation's central region killed at least 125 people. That quake hit areas that are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out. Felix Taranu, a seismologist at the Geophysical Observatory in the capital Port Moresby, said the strength of the earthquake meant it "most likely caused considerable damage." According to the US Geological Survey, the quake hit at 9:46am local time at a depth of 56 miles. NOAA advised there was no tsunami threat for the region. Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. It sits on the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occurs.

(More earthquake stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.