Powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 strikes off Papua New Guinea, causing small tsunami

No damage or casualties were reported 

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The Independent Online

 A powerul 7.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off Papua New Guinea, forcing some people to flee and causing a small tsunami. 

The quake took place near the eastern New Ireland region, several hundred kilometres from the main island, at a depth of 73km. 

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, though parts of New Ireland are very remote. 

However, many residents in the northern parts of the autonomous region of Bougainville, in Solomon Islands, sought higher ground amid warnings that tsunami waves were possible.

"The town residents have vacated the whole place; those in the villages live higher up, so they're ok, it's just those near the coast," local resident Christabel Biasu told Reuters by phone.

According to Felix Taranu, a seismologist with the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby, a tsunami measuring less than one meter hit the coast of the island of New Ireland shortly after the earthquake.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) also warned "widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible," threatening not only Papua New Guinean coast but also Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Nauru, Kosrae and Vanuatu, but would likely be around 0.3 metres high. 

As far way as New Zealand, a tsunami warning was issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence but later cancelled. 

Locals in the north of New Ireland were unphased by the quake. 

Alun Beck, 70, told The Independent he hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. 

The New Zealand native, who runs a guest house on the island's northern tip, said earthquakes were common in the region. 

The south of the island, near where the latest quake struck, is remote and only accessible by boat, Mr Beck said, adding that communities there tended to "fend for themselves". 

Papua New Guinea sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

Additional reporting by Agencies.