Massive 7.9 earthquake strikes off Papua New Guinea, tsunami alert cancelled
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oceanographer David Walsh looks at computer graphs at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, October 7, 2009 Reuters

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) and New Zealand government said tsunami alert that was issued after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Papua New Guinea on Saturday night has been cancelled.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the undersea quake struck about 45 kilometers east of New Ireland island, which is also known as Latangai. The quake took place 8:51 pm (5:51 am ET). Authorities said the extent of damage was not immediately known.

The USGS initially said the quake's magnitude was 8.0, but later downgraded the strength.

Alun Beck, the owner of the Treehouse Village Resort on the island of New Ireland, told CNN that when the earthquake hit, he was setting up fishing boats to go shark fishing. However, he didn't feel any tremor. He got to know about the quake after two hours via social media. Beck also added that he had not heard about any major damage.

PTWC said initially that hazardous tsunamis were possible, around midnight, along some coasts of that country, as well as the Solomon Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Indonesia, Nauru, Kosrae and Vanuatu.

Papua New Guinea is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a zone of seismic activity and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. According to USGS, the nation witnesses quakes quite often as it lies in an area where the friction between tectonic plates produces unusually high seismic activity.

The ring stretches 25,000 miles from New Zealand, past Japan, across the Bering Strait and down to the tip of South America and includes more than 400 underwater volcanoes.