Tsunami danger recedes following earthquake in Papua New Guinea

The powerful magnitude 7.9 quake hit 157km east of Rabual

Updated 14:35

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has struck off the east coast of Papua New Guinea.

The earthquake struck 29 miles to the east of Taron on Saturday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. There are no reports of casualties.

A strong aftershock hit the area of the original quake within the space of an hour, with the USGS reporting 5.5 and 6.3 magnitude quakes.

The USGS added: "Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking...some casualties and damage are possible."

People living in Bougainville fled to higher ground. Local resident Christabel Biasu said: "The town residents have vacated the whole place; those in the villages live higher up, so they're OK, it's just those near the coast."

A nurse at Buka General Hospital in Bougainville said the quake was so strong it felt like the building she was sleeping in would topple. She said patients were being moved a few kilometres to higher ground.

The nurse added: "We have about 16 beds. Most of them are already a suburb up."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had warned of hazardous tsunami waves but it says the threat is now over.

Papua New Guinea sits on the Ring of Fire, the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes are common.

The neighbouring Solomon Islands were hit by a devastating tsunami in 2013 after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck the region.

At least 10 people died and hundreds of homes were destroyed leaving thousands of people homeless.