‘Ferry was overloaded’

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 07th Febuary 2012

THE ill-fated mv Rabaul Queen, which sank near Finschhafen district in Morobe last Thursday morning was overloaded, Minister for Transport and Works Francis Awesa says.
He said the vessel owners had breached safety standards by carrying more than the ship’s passenger capacity of 310 people.
Awesa said there were 40 extra people on the vessel when it sank.
He said the number of passengers on board could not be confirmed at this stage.
There were unconfirmed reports that there were more than 400 people aboard the ship.
Awesa said the vessel was built in 1983 and had been designed for short trips of several hours and should have had safety equipment on board.
He said the tragedy and loss of lives could have been avoided if safety had been put ahead of making money.
“Although it is too early to say, I can conclude that the vessel was overloaded,” he said.
“The ship owner neglected to take precautions. The owner put money ahead of people’s lives.”
He said it was important for shipping companies to put the safety of passengers and crews first.
Awesa said the O’Neill-Namah regime was concerned because it involved so many lives lost and had issued orders for a preliminary investigation into the cause of the mishap.
He said it was one of the biggest marine accidents in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
National Maritime Safety Authority executive manager of maritime operations Capt Nurur Rahman and chief executive officer Chris Rupen said the authority was determined and ready to carry out an investigation.