A 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea today, sending frightened residents fleeing from their homes, but a threatened tsunami passed without incident, seismologists said.
The earthquake struck 133 kilometres (83 miles) south-southwest of the town of Kokopo in the New Britain region at a depth of 63 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said, and was followed by a 5.9 magnitude aftershock.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned that "hazardous tsunami waves" were possible but in a later update said "the tsunami threat has now mostly passed".
Mathew Moihoi, a seismologist at the PNG Geophysical Observatory, said the latest quake followed a series of seismic activity in the region in recent weeks but there had been no reports of major damage to buildings or infrastructure.
"Some things fell off the shelves," he told AFP.
Annette Sete, who lives in Kokopo, said there had been powerful tremors recently "but this latest one was big".
"Schools shut and kids sent home, many homes had the interiors turned upside down. A number of power lines down and trees fallen but no reports of casualties yet," she said.
Zenia Lopez, a worker at the Kokopo Village Resort, said she and her colleagues ran outside when the quake struck, but there was no damage to their resort.