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Massive 7.7 Earthquake Hits Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea; Tsunami Warning Issued

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Sunday issued a warning for the South Pacific Sunday following a massive 7.7 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. The quake hit at 7:48 p.m. EDT, 34 miles southeast of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The tsunami warning center said hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of the epicenter, along the coasts of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, but there was no threat Pacific-wide.

USGS said the quake was centered near the town of Rabaul in northeast Papua New Guinea. The tsunami warning center said there was no threat to Hawaii, and the Wellington Dominion Post said New Zealand civil defense officials expected no threat to New Zealand.

A 6.3 magnitude temblor hit Papua New Guinea March 15. No damage or casualties were reported. That quake also was in the Rabaul area on the northeast tip of New Britain island, Reuters reported. A day earlier, a 5.3 magnitude quake rocked the Vanimo area.

The area of the quake is known as the Australia-Pacific plate and is more than 4,000 kilometers (2,484 miles) long. The Australian plate meets the Pacific plate along the South Solomon trench. There have been 13 earthquakes measuring at least 7.5 in the area since 1900. An 8.1-magnitude quake occurred April 1, 2007, on the western edge of the trench, spawned a tsunami that killed at least 40 people. It was the third quake of that strength in the past century.

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