PNG Quake
A major earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.0 has struck Bougainville Island in the Solomon Islands, prompting a tsunami alert for both the islands and the wider region, seismologists say. Only few details are available.

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The earthquake, which struck at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, was centered about 37 kilometers (23 miles) northwest of Panguna, a town on Bougainville Island that is located northeast of mainland Papua New Guinea and is geographically part of the Solomon Islands archipelago.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which put the preliminary magnitude at 8.4, said the earthquake struck at a depth of 168 kilometers (104 miles), making it a relatively deep quake. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude at 8.0.

As a result, a tsunami alert has been issued for Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Vanuatu, and Chuuk. "Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

There was no immediate word about damage, casualties, or whether a tsunami had in fact been generated.

There is no tsunami threat to the Philippines, Hawaii, or the coastlines of the mainland of the United States and Canada.

The Solomon Islands are on the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire', an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. The Solomon Islands arc as a whole experiences a very high level of earthquake activity, and many tremors of magnitude 7 and larger have been recorded since the early decades of the twentieth century.

On April 2, 2007, a massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck close to the New Georgia Islands of the Solomon Islands. It unleashed a regional tsunami, killing 52 people and destroying more than 300 homes, schools and a hospital at Sasamunga. Two people were killed as a result of landslides, which were triggered by the earthquake.