1998 Papua New Guinea earthquake
|Date||July 17, 1998|
|Countries or regions||Papua New Guinea|
|Casualties||at least 2,200|
The 1998 Papua New Guinea earthquake was a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that took place in the early evening of Friday, 17 July 1998. The earthquake struck the north coast region of Papua New Guinea, 25 km (16 mi) from the coast near Aitape, and caused a large undersea landslide, which in turn caused a tsunami that hit the coast, killing more than 2200 people.
The tsunami resulted in at least 2,200 people being killed, thousands being injured, about 9,500 homeless and about 500 missing. The maximum height of the waves was estimated at being 15 m (59 ft) high with an average height of 10.5 m (34 ft).
The area worst hit was a 30 km (19 mi) coastal strip running north-west from Aitape to the village of Sissano. Several villages in the path of the tsunami were completely destroyed and others extensively damaged. The village of Arop was situated on a narrow spit between the coast and Sissano lagoon. It was directly in the path of the tsunami and was worst hit.
The earthquake occurred at 6:49pm local time (UTC+10) along the boundary of the Australia and the Pacific tetonic plates at . The tsunami was originally thought to have been caused by a two-metre vertical drop in the Pacific Plate along a 40 km (25 mi) long crack, caused by the earthquake. Later work suggested that in fact a massive underwater landslide had occurred.
The tsunami raised awareness among scientists of the potential for small earthquakes to trigger large tsunamis, if they cause undersea landslides. It is now recognised that such events can be very dangerous, as the earthquake may be too small to be felt on land, or detected by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Any resulting tsunami can thus appear without warning.
|This section requires expansion. (May 2007)|
Immediately after the tsunami the Royal Australian Air Force flew in three C-130 Hercules transport planes with relief supplies. In the days following more relief was flown in and a field hospital was set up in the neighbouring town of Vanimo.
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- AAP (1998-07-23). "Plate shift left no warning time". The Age. p. 9.
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- Synolakis, Costas E. et al. (2002). "The Slump Origin of the 1998 Papua New Guinea Tsunami". Proceedings of the Royal Society A 458 (2020): 763–789. Bibcode:2002RSPSA.458..763E. doi:10.1098/rspa.2001.0915.