Strong Earthquake Hits Near Papua New Guinea

May 14, 2019 Updated: May 14, 2019

Update as of 11 a.m. ET: The tsunami threat “has largely passed,” say officials.

A tsunami warning was issued after a powerful, 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

The alert was issued for Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. At about 11 a.m. local time, the Tsunami Center said that “threat from the 7.7 magnitude #earthquake in Papua New Guinea has now largely passed.”

The quake hit about 30 miles northeast of Kokopo, East New Britain, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake hit at about 6 miles.

Fox Los Angeles reported Rick Dickert said there is “no tsunami threat for California” after the quake struck.

The Tsunami Center previously stated: “Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters … hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000km of the earthquake epicentre … Government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations at risk in accordance with their own evaluation procedures and the level of threat,” AFP reported.

It comes about a year after an earthquake of the same magnitude left at least 125 people dead in the country’s central region.

“It was massive, absolutely massive. Very scary,” Megan Martin, the managing director of the Ropopo Plantation resort in Kokopo, told the AFP news agency, describing the May 14 earthquake.

“There does not appear to be any damage, but we are out checking,” she said.

Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a particularly earthquake-prone region.

pacific ring of fire earthquake volcano
The Pacific “Ring of Fire.” (Public Domain)

‘The Big One’

Last year, a report said that a 9.0 earthquake could hit off the West Coast of Canada, which could kill thousands of people and trigger massive tsunami waves around the West Coast of North America. What’s more, the waves could even make it to Japan. It’s only a matter of time, they suggested.

“It’s difficult to predict when it will happen again. We do know it’s occurred about 20 times in the past 10,000 years,” Dr. John Clague, an earth sciences professor at Simon Fraser University, told GlobalNews Canada.

The report made reference to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit close to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in the year 1700.

The quake caused a tsunami that affected the east coast of Japan, and several Native American tribes in the region have oral traditions that speak about a giant earthquake as well as a tsunami-like flooding event along the West Coast.

“This geologically active region, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, not only hosts erupting volcanoes but also produces megathrust earthquakes capable of generating devastating, ocean-crossing tsunamis. By comparing the tree rings of dead trees with those still living they could tell when the last of these great earthquakes struck the region. The trees all died in the winter of 1699-1700 when the coasts of northern California, Oregon, and Washington suddenly dropped 3-6 feet, flooding them with seawater,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center wrote.