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Powerful earthquake hits near Papua New Guinea

– A powerful earthquake struck off the South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.3 earthquake was located 38 miles southwest of the town of Panguna on Bougainville Island. It struck at a depth of 31 miles.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami. But the agency said quakes of this size can sometimes generate waves that can be destructive to coasts within a few hundred miles of the epicenter.

A staffer at the Geophysical Observatory in the capital, Port Moresby, said no reports of damage or unusual wave activity along the coastline were received. The area closest to the epicenter is very sparsely populated.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea. The country lies on the “Ring of Fire” – an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

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