The National, Thursday November 7th, 2013
By DOROTHY MARK
FOUR people are reported missing at sea after the dinghy they were travelling capsized between Madang and Long Island on Sunday.
The fifth passenger, Moses Balkawa, 50, was rescued by a boat operator from Kavailo village on Karkar Island, north of Madang. He had been drifting at sea using an empty fuel drum for several hours.
Balkawa and one of those still missing are from Dom village in Sinesine, Chimbu. The other three are from Siassi in Morobe.
Balkawa told people who rescued him that he and four others had hired a dinghy to go to Long Island to buy betel nut. They travelled on Sunday.
One of Balkawa’s relatives confirmed that the five were wearing life jackets when they left Madang. They had loaded two drums of fuel. The relative said they believed strong winds and rough seas caused the vessel to capsize.
The disaster office in Madang received news of the capsizing on Tuesday from Balkawa’s relatives.
Marine transport inspector Capt Paskal Yali said he advised health workers at the Kavailo health centre to look after Balkawa because he was reported to be very weak after drifting at sea for several hours.
The Madang Disaster and Emergency office faces financial problems and could not conduct a search and rescue mission.
There were no funds allocated to the office in the 2012 and 2013 budget. Outstanding payments owed to service providers have accumulated. “We owed our service providers more than K100,000 and yet disasters are striking our people every month,” Yali said.