An aftershock of yesterday's M7.5 earthquake measuring M6.0 on the Richter scale hit Papua New Guinea at 08:26 UTC on February 26, 2018 at a depth of 23.6 km (14.6 miles). This is the 28th moderate to strong aftershock to hit this area since February 25th M7.5.
The epicenter was located 52.7 km (32.8 mi) SW of Mendi (population 26 252) and 123.5 km (76.8 mi) WSW of Mount Hagen (population 33 623).
There are 900 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles). Some 43 000 people are estimated to have felt moderate shaking and 1 486 000 weak.
The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses.
This earthquake is an aftershock of a very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.5 at 17:44 UTC on February 25, 2018 (03:44 local time, February 26).
40 000 people are estimated to have felt violent shaking produced by that quake, 270 000 severe, 336 000 very strong, 809 000 strong and 1 205 000 moderate.
At least 28 moderate to strong aftershocks hit this area between 17:44 UTC, February 25 and 08:26 UTC, February 26. Magnitudes ranged from 4.1 to 6.0.
Image credit: USGS
Mobile network in this region has been disrupted following yesterday's M7.5 quake, preventing initial reports of damage.
First reports coming from the local MP, Manasseh Makiba, via satellite phone said the quake was very huge and there were some casualties. "There were landslides and destruction of some properties and houses and there were reports of some lives being lost.. about ten."
The epicenter is located in a rugged, heavily forested Southern Highlands about 560 km (350 miles) NW of capital, Port Moresby. This is very close to key infrastructure for PNG's ExxonMobil-led LNG gas project.
ExxonMobil said it had shut its Hides gas conditioning plant and that it believed administration buildings, living quarters and a mess hall had been damaged. It also said it had suspended flights into the nearby Komo airfield until the runway could be surveyed.
Aid and missionary agencies said poor communications in the area made damage and injury assessment difficult. "The bush structures that they build tend to handle earthquakes extremely well," Christian missionary Brandon Buser told Reuters after contacting several remote villages by shortwave radio.
Troops and rescue workers were sent to the region.
Locals say the main quake lasted between 60 and 90 seconds (and up to 150 seconds).
This is one of the most significant earthquakes ever to strike New Guinea island in recorded history.
The mainshock updates are available at the following link: https://watchers.news/2018/02/25/massive-m7-5-earthquake-hits-papua-new-guinea/
12 aftershocks hit the area since M6.0 at 08:26 UTC today, including M6.3 at 15:17 UTC. This brings the total number of aftershocks to 42.
Featured image credit: USGS