The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014
THE Provincial Disaster Office in Kimbe was under-resourced and ill-equipped when it was engaged in the search and rescue operation for five scientists, a coroner’s inquest has been told.
The five scientists and three others went missing in waters off West New Britain on August 1, 2011.
A coroner’s inquest is being held in Kimbe on their disappearance.
Provincial disaster officer director Leo Mapmani told the inquest that his office notified the National Maritime Safety Authority and National Disaster Center four days after receiving report of the missing boat at around 1pm on August 5, 2011.
He said the vessel used was described as a white 23-foot dinghy with yellow and orange stripe powered by a 60-HP outboard engine. Printed on the side was the name Beneve 2.
Mapmani admitted that his office was handicapped in terms of essential resources such as an emergency response boat.
He was questioned during Tuesday’s inquest if his office was adequately equipped and funded to conduct the search and rescue operation.
The provincial disaster office abandoned the search after five weeks and handed over investigations to the police.
The West New Britain provincial government provided its boat the mv Artemis, its personnel and logistical assistance during the course the operation.
All search and rescue operations were conducted with advice from authorities such as the National Maritime Safety Authority based on wind directions, current and tide.