Ferry packed with people: Passenger

The National,Monday June 20th, 2016

JOHN Kembu Jr, who was a frequent traveller on the mv Rabaul Queen, said the voyage from Kimbe to Lae before the vessel sank on Feb 2, 2012 was unlike the previous trips.
He gave evidence during the trial last Friday in the National Court in Kokopo.
Dressed in black, Kembu, a survivor of the ferry disaster, gave a detailed account of how he and his sister Belinda had boarded the vessel from Kimbe.
They were destined for Lae when the tragedy struck.
Kembu said he had travelled the route around 20 times and had never seen the vessel exceed its passenger capacity.“I was a frequent traveller and the ship’s deck was never as full as that time,” Kembu said.
“The ship was already full when my sister and I got on at Kimbe and it was quite difficult making our way to the first class section that we purchased tickets for.
“People were sitting shoulder to shoulder and we had to literally step on people,” he said.
Kembu said when the three waves hit the vessel, Belinda was sucked downwards by the strong wave while he managed to hold onto a pole. As the ship plunged into the ocean, he managed to resurface.
“It was a horrible sight, people were screaming as the front of the ship was sinking,” he said.
Kembu managed to locate an orange fibro board and held onto it until he was rescued and taken on board the mv Violet, which later proceeded to Lae.
After a slight pause and in a teary voice, he said he confirmed his sister’s body at the morgue by identifying a tattoo on her back.
Kembu said there was no safety drill, notification to evacuate the ship when the emergency struck.
He said there had been no demonstration on the use of life jackets before or during the journey.