December 14, 2011 – A 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Struck Eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea: The quake hit at 3:04AM in the remote southeast of New Guinea (NG), Papua New Guinea (PNG). The tremor occurred at a relatively deep 121 kilometers (75 miles) and was felt over a wide area. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated that no tsunami warning was issued because the quake occurred on land.
The 7.1 magnitude tremor was centered near Lae, the country’s second-largest city. “It was very, very big;” said Dolly Kinibo, a receptionist at the Lae International Hotel. “It lasted for two to three minutes. The whole building moved. The Christmas tree moved, we all moved, people were very shaken. There are no reports of injuries or damage, but our managers are checking.” The quake sent goods flying from the shelves of Lae’s Foodmart store but caused only minor damage and no injuries. “It wrecked some displays and caused some damage to the ceiling,” said store manager Albert Martinez. Residents in the capital Port Moresby, 137 miles NNW of the epicenter, also reported feeling the quake. PNG, a country where the majority of people live subsistence lives despite its abundant mineral wealth, sits on the geographically active Pacific “Ring of Fire.”
The eastern half of the island of New Guinea, the second largest island in the world, sits between the Coral Sea and the Pacific Ocean, east of Indonesia. It’s roughly the size of California and boasts one of the most diverse populations on Earth, with more than 850 indigenous languages and even more traditional societies, most existing in sparsely inhabited rural areas far from the capital of Port Moresby. This is one of Earth’s least explored terrains. Biologists believe many plant and animal species in the rugged interior remain to be discovered.
The earthquake was 55 miles SSW of Lae, NG, PNG; 76 miles northwest of Popondetta, NG, PNG; and 1,434 miles NNW of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Politically, the western half of the island of New Guinea comprises two Indonesian provinces: Papua and West Papua. The eastern half forms the mainland of the country of Papua New Guinea. New Guinea has a population of about 7.5 million struggling against a hot humid damp rainy climate and constantly dripping jungle covering high mountain-dominated terrain with abrupt features rapidly descending to the sea coast, all prone to several severe downpours during all seasons, resulting in a very low population density (8 inhabitants per square kilometer). Many people live in extreme poverty, with about one third of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.
Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands. The capital of PNG is Port Moresby, with a population of 310,000. According to a survey of world cities by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, Port Moresby is one of the world’s least livable cities, ranked 137 of 140 cities rated. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was #1; and Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, was #140.
Although it was 3:04AM on December 14th at the epicenter, it was 12:04AM in New York, 11:04PM (December 13th) in Chicago, 10:04PM in Denver and 9:04PM in Los Angeles.
The Master of Disaster