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Massive M7.6 earthquake hits Papua New Guinea, hazardous tsunami waves possible

m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea f

A very strong earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.6 hit eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea at 23:46 UTC on September 10, 2022. The agency is reporting a depth of 90 km (56 miles). EMSC is reporting M7.6 at a depth of 80 km (50 miles).

The epicenter was located 65.6 km (40.8 miles) WNW of Lae (population 76 255) and 90.8 km (56.4 miles) N of Bulolo (population 16 042), Morobe, Papua New Guinea.

Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts within 1 000 km (620 miles) of the earthquake epicenter, PTWC said.

217 000 people are estimated to have felt severe shaking, 1 117 000 very strong and 1 054 000 strong.

The USGS issued a Yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response.

Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Papua New Guinea.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction. The predominant vulnerable building types are informal (metal, timber, GI etc.) and unreinforced brick masonry construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as tsunamis, landslides and liquefaction that might have contributed to losses.

m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea bg
Image credit: TW/SAM, Google
m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea bg2
Image credit: TW/SAM, Google

The quake caused widespread damage to homes and infrastructure, triggered a series of deadly landslides, and left at least 7 people dead, according to official reports released on Monday, September 12.1

However, more people are feared dead as rescuers begin to reach remote landslide-hit communities.

Police Commissioner David Manning said 3 alluvial miners were buried alive near the settlement of Wau while 4 others died in locations across Morobe and Madang provinces.

Papua New Guinea Red Cross secretary-general Valachie Quagliata said the area’s rough mountainous terrain made access difficult, with the worst affected areas not accessible by car.

The quake has also damaged the Ramu hydropower plant, resulting in a total system outage across the Highlands provinces, Madang, and Morobe.

Quagliata added there will be major power interruptions going forward.

An undersea cable linking the regional capital Madang to Port Moresby was also affected by the quake, as was a link between Madang and Sydney.

While parts of the highway connecting several main cities have been damaged, regional airports in Goroka and Lae-Nadzab remain open.

Prime Minister James Marape said the impact of the earthquake is expected to be less than a 2018 quake that killed 150 people.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea usgs epe
m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea usgs epet

Selected cities exposed

m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea usgs sce

Regional seismicity

m7-7 earthquake september 10 2022 papua new guinea emsc rs

References:

1 Papua New Guinea Quake Toll Rises To Seven – AFP – September 12, 2022

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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