A powerful earthquake struck central Papua New Guinea early Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports, per CBS. It was a 7.5-magnitude quake that hit approximately 55 miles southwest of Porgera in the Pacific island's Enga province.
The tremor hit around 3.45 a.m. local time around the area and its surrounding forest villages and ran about a relatively shallow 22 miles deep. CBS reports Porgera is home to a large gold and silver mine that employs more than 2,500 residents. As of press time, there have been no reports of injuries or damages. But there have been reports of blackouts.
Chris McKee, acting director of geohazards management for the Papua New Guinea government, said tens of thousands of people reside in the highlands region that was affected by the earthquake. "There seem to be quite a few reports of the quake being felt strongly," he explained. McKee added the quake was followed by a wave of strong aftershocks that shook other parts of the fault line.
The incident disrupted communications, as well as oil and gas operations and coffee plantations. ExxonMobil Corp reported it shut its Hides gas conditioning plant to see if there was any damage. The plant is located close to the quake's epicenter. "All of ExxonMobil PNG Limited's employees and contractors at its Hides facilities have been accounted for, and we are pleased to report they are all safe," ExxonMobil's PNG spokeswoman said in an email.
USGS stated recent earthquakes in the Porgera area had caused tsunamis and landslides, but Geophysicist Paul Caruso assures there was no tsunami danger.