Barge capsizes

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday June 21st, 2013


ELEVEN people were rescued from the sea  92 nautical miles northwest of Port Moresby early yesterday morning after their barge capsized in high seas.

Authorities last night named the capsized vessel as mv Mundi Navigator, a PNG-registered flag vessel owned by Mundi No.1. 

It was understood to be servicing the Port Moresby-Purari River route.

The survivors were scheduled to arrive in Port Moresby yesterday evening aboard tug boat, Go Rigel, which is contracted by Oil Search Ltd to provide support and supply duties to the semi-submersible rig Stena Clyde, currently operating out of Port Moresby.

One survivor was said to be nursing a fractured forearm. 

An Oil Search report yesterday said at 6am yesterday, the company was contacted by the Austra­lian Rescue Centre in Port Moresby with a request for assistance, following an emergency call from a commercial vessel in distress offshore in the Gulf of Papua. 

“Oil Search provided two vessels and a helicopter to aid relevant authorities in the rescue effort.

“One of the Oil Search vessels arrived at the scene and rescued all 11 PNG citizens. 

“The vessel is returning to Port Moresby where it will hand over the people to the PNG authorities,” Oil Search said. 

“The other Oil Search vessel and helicopter have now been stood down from rescue duties.”

 Oil Search said its offshore drilling operations in PPL 244 has not been impacted.

Statements released by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which had coordinated the rescue effort, said following a shipping distress broadcast it received and emergency beacon activation at 3.30am yesterday, a plane was diverted to the area.

“At 9am, the plane reported sighting an upturned barge and three life rafts in the water, one with people in it,” AMSA said in the statement.

AMSA responded and dispatched its Dornier and a winch-capable helicopter to the area. Go Rigel and another tug boat also raced to the scene.

The coastal waters forecast for Wednesday and yesterday, issued by the National Weather Office in Port Moresby, showed rough seas and waves of 1.5m to 2.5m rising to 3.0m with south easterly winds of 15 and 25 knots increasing to 34 knots for the waters of southern PNG and the Indonesian border through Daru to Kiwai Islands.

By late yesterday, the cause of the boating accident was still unknown.

NMSA said the 11 rescued were under the care of mv Go Rigel en route to Port Moresby. They were expected to arrive 7pm.

Meanwhile, NSW acting director Sam Maiha says continuous rain will be experienced in most 

parts of the country in the next few days particularly around the Solomon Sea, Coral Sea towards the Kiunga border with Ok Tedi in Western.  

“People are warned to look out for floods. We don’t expect the winds to be that stronger.”