Passenger tells of horror as ferry sinks

The National,Monday June 27th, 2016

A SURVIVOR of the mv Rabaul Queen disaster in 2012, Patrick Muelchol, was sleeping at the time the three big waves hit the ferry causing it to capsize, he told the trial last Friday.
Ferry owner Peter Sharp and his captain Anthony Tsiau are facing 172 counts of manslaughter and for sending and taking an unseaworthy vessel out to sea.
Muelchol and his nephew, Bernard Muelchol, had travelled from Kavieng to Rabaul on the mv Alotau Queen on Jan 30, 2012.
At the Rabaul wharf, he bought two tickets to travel on the mv Rabaul Queen to Lae.
On Feb 2, when they sailed out of Kimbe port, the weather was windy and raining.
He said when the ferry reached Siassi Island, it encountered big waves that rocked it from side to side.
“Between 6.30am and 7am on Feb 2, 2012 when the first big wave hit, I was asleep and was woken up by the worried voices of other passengers.
“This wave tilted the ship and as the ship was trying to return to its normal position, the second wave hit as the ship travelled sideways and we were thrown off balance. Then the third wave hit and capsized it,” Muelchol said.
He said he was thrown against a post and swam towards the glass window of the cabin, opened it and swam out as the ferry capsized.
When he resurfaced, he saw some passengers in a life raft some 20 metres away and swam towards them and was helped on board. They drifted until they were rescued by a fishing vessel.
When asked about his nephew, he said: “No, sorry he died and I have not seen him since the ship sunk,” Muelchol said.