Earthquakes rattle South Pacific, deaths feared

The South Pacific is reeling from another series of powerful earthquakes that rocked the region early Tuesday. Known as the Ring of Fire, the area is home to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck 56 miles from Pogera and Enga province in Papua New Guinea at 3:45 a.m. There have been unconfirmed reports of fatalities in and around the city of Mendi, located in the heart of Papua New Guinea, and home to over 50,000 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake as having a depth of 22 miles.

Roughly 40 minutes later in the Indonesian Archipelago, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck in the Molucca Sea, located 29 miles northeast of Airbuaya in the far east of the archipelago nation. The earthquake was measured by the U.S. Geological Survey as having a depth of 7 miles and the epicenter was placed about 121 miles from Ambon, the capital of Maluku province.

The region affected by the Papua New Guinea earthquake is known for off-shore oil drilling. ExxonMobil PNG and Australian company Oil Search suspended operations in order to insure the safety of their employees.

No injuries to staff have been reported.

Never a stranger to earthquakes, the South Pacific has experienced more than its share over the past few months. The Associated Press reported a 6.5 magnitude earthquake near the Indonesian island of Java last December. The earthquake penetrated deep (57 miles) into the Earth's crust and put the island under tsunami warning for  two hours.

That quake accounted for two deaths and destruction to over 40 homes and several hospitals.