A 7.5-magnitude quake rattled villages and a large gold mine in Papua New Guinea. The epicentre was about 96 kilometres south-west of Mendi, the capital of Southern Highlands province, a town of more than 50,000 people. It was estimated that the quake could have been felt by more than a million residents, with approximately 40,000 exposed to "violent" shaking.
A destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.The powerful earthquake caused landslides and killed at least 14 people. There are unconfirmed reports about 30 dead. An estimated 300 people were injured. The tremor caused ExxonMobil to shut its $19bn (€15bn) liquefied natural gas plant, PNG's biggest export earner. A number of buildings collapsed and roads were blocked. Dozens of aftershocks followed, including a 5.7 quake on Tuesday afternoon.
The landslides are making it difficult for rescue teams to reach the region. "Our police station, courthouse, hospital ... even private houses have been ripped apart or sunk into the ground," the governor of Hela province, Philip Undialu, told media. Miners Barrick Gold Corp and Ok Tedi Mining reported damage to infrastructure and a local power station. Earthquakes are common in Papa New Guinea, which sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. Part of the country's northern coast was destroyed by a tsunami in 1998, caused by a 7.0 earthquake, which killed about 2,200 people in the nation of 7 million.