246 survivors, says witness

The National,Monday June 20th, 2016

A TOTAL of 246 surviving passengers were picked up during emergency rescue operations carried out by PNG Ports from five fishing vessels in Lae after the mv Rabaul Queen sank off Finschaffen, Morobe, on Feb 2, 2012.
Benjamin John, security manager with PNG Ports Lae, testified in the trial last Friday in the Kokopo National Court.
John, who currently oversees 108 staff, has been in the job for almost 20 years.
“I was in the office when my officers came to inform me that provincial disaster officers from Lae wanted five vessels to be put out at sea to help search for the missing passengers,” he said.
On the eve of Feb 2 and into the early hours of Feb 3, they began emergency rescue operations using a tug boat.
The first vessel they approached was the mv Molsama.
“I accompanied the customs officer who did clearance on the Molsama before we collected 116 survivors and helped them onto the tug boat we were using and took them to the Lae wharf,” he said.
John said with help from the captain of the Molsama, they identified the surviving passengers, who no longer had proper clothes on.
He said their bodies were covered in black oil.
Some of the passengers were given  overalls to wear and keep themselves warm.
The second vessel was mv Carol, in which they retrieved 53 survivors. There were also nine survivors from Cap Scott, 29 from mv Johnly and 39 from mv Violet.
John was shown pictures of the work conducted during the emergency rescue operations, of which he confirmed taking.