Five Moresby fishermen missing at sea

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 16, 2011

FOUR families at the coastal village of Hanuabada in Port Moresby hold grave fears for the safety of five male family members who failed to return from a fishing trip last Thursday.
Their empty dinghy has been found and the search by villagers continued over the weekend.
The fishing trip had been led by Ao Mea and his son Mea who were accompanied by family friend Rarua Agalu, a son-in-law Rima Boe and a relative Kauna Vagi.
They had informed family members they would fish at a spot locally known as Soulspit, a stretch of water between Idiha Island and Lagava, close to the Porebada waters.
Spokesman Rev Mea Dikana said yesterday that the five, who were very good fishermen, had gone out to fish during their usual time despite warnings that the weather would be turning rougher later on.
He said that another  group of Hanuabada men who were returning from Yule Island that night had spotted Mea and his group and had urged them to return home as the sea was getting rougher and the winds stronger.
Dikana said early Friday the villagers mounted a search and rescue operation with assistance from the Royal Papua Yacht Club, the Motu-Koitabu Assembly, the police and neighbouring villages to look for their relatives.
More than 50 small craft had taken part in the search to no avail, he said.
Yesterday evening there was no promising word from the search party which included a helicopter search that was arranged by the Motu-Koitabu Assembly.
Dikana said they have hope that the men are still alive, maybe floating out at sea using the fuel container and other containers in the dinghy.
The dinghy they were using was found on Saturday afternoon with evidence that it may have sunk when its anchor caught on the reef.
It also had a piece of its outboard motor clipped off, and tied to the dinghy was a raincoat and a sweater but no sign of life in or around the dinghy when it was recovered.