SYDNEY: A tsunami warning has been issued for the Pacific region after a powerful earthquake rattled the south Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Monday.
The magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck at a depth of 65 kilometers (40 miles), about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of the town of Kokopo in northeastern Papua New Guinea, the US Geological Survey said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said hazardous tsunami waves could hit coasts located within 1,000 kilometers of Kokopo, with waves between 1 to 3 meters possible for Papua New Guinea.
Also, Tsunami waves of less than 0.3 meters (1 foot) could hit other Pacific island nations, China, Japan, Russia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Antarctica later Monday, the tsunami warning center said.
Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea. The country lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.
A massive quake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale jolted Hawaii residents were evacuating from their homes following a volcanic eruption that has not showed any signs of slowing down, authorities said.
The temblor that struck 16 km southwest of Leilani Estates at 12.32 p.m., on Friday, was one of more than 110 earthquakes that hit the island since the Kilauea volcano, one of the world’s most active, erupted on Wednesday, reports CNN.
US Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Jana Pursley said there have been 119 earthquakes on the Big Island since Thursday afternoon.
The USGS said Friday’s 6.9 quake was the most powerful on the island since 1975.
About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after the earthquake.
The quake has knocked out power to residents who were already dealing with mandatory evacuation orders, molten rock and high levels of sulphur dioxide in the air.
The situation wasn’t getting any better, Civil Defence Administrator Talmadge Magno told reporters on Friday afternoon.
“Activity continues. It doesn’t look like it is slowing down,” CNN quoted Magno as saying.
He said five volcanic vents have opened and indicated that at least one house and another structure were destroyed by lava.
It is highly unusual to see the vents so far from Kilauea volcano, he said.
Hundreds of people have evacuated from Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people, and Lanipuna Gardens.
Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawaii County, said the government will support residents, including those who want to go back to their homes to pick up some belongings.
“We have to work with them as to how we are going to minimise (the inconveniences) as best as possible,” he said.