SYDNEY, Australia – A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Friday off the northeast coast of the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea (search), the U.S. Geological Survey (search) said. There were no immediate reports of damage, and officials said there was no danger of a tsunami.
The quake was centered 60 miles underground in New Ireland, a region that includes islands about 540 miles northeast of the capital, Port Moresby, the survey reported. It happened at 2:26 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Shinjiro Tari, an earthquake expert for Japan's Meteorological Agency (search), said there was no danger of a tsunami because the epicenter was very deep. Japan runs a tsunami warning system in the Pacific Ocean.
In 1998, a tsunami caused by an undersea earthquake killed at least 2,000 people when it struck the north coast of Papua New Guinea's main island, wiping out dozens of coastal villages.
Papua New Guinea, an impoverished nation of 5 million people, lies immediately north of Australia.
Authorities in neighboring Australia said they had no immediate reports of damage in the remote region near where the offshore quake hit.
The Pacific tsunami warning center in Hawaii posted a bulletin on its Web site saying that "no destructive Pacific-wide tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," but adding that earthquakes of this size can sometimes generate local tsunamis.