Search continues in Morobe waters

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 06th Febuary 2012

PETER Sharp, owner of Rabaul Shipping Ltd, is expected to be in Lae this week to assist in settling matters relating to the sinking of the mv Rabaul Queen last Thursday.
The vessel, which sank off the coast of Finschhafen in Morobe province, had passengers from North Solomons, Rabaul and Kimbe.
It was on its way to Lae.
Provincial disaster authorities in Lae said 246 people had
been rescued while more than 100 were still unaccounted for when bad weather forced the search to be called off at 3pm yesterday.
Three bodies of female passengers were found at the border of Northern and Milne Bay provinces late on Saturday. They are now at the Angau hospital mortuary awaiting identification by relatives.
Morobe acting provincial administrator Patillas Gamato said the search would continue
today especially around the islands of Morobe patrol post, Salamaua and towards Northern province.
Gamato is urging Sharp to quickly assist in the operation and investigation.
Relatives of those involved in the boat tragedy have been asked to form provincial or regional groups and come up with petitions that will be handed to the company lawyer in Lae today.
The national and provincial disaster offices urgently need funding to carry out their operations.
According to the provincial disaster office, they still
need to check isolated islands along the coast to see whether any survivors had gone ashore there.
The provincial disaster office is appealing to people living along the coast of Madang, the islands and the Southern provinces to keep a look out for survivors.
Churches and civil organisations in the province are assisting survivors with churches allowing them to be temporarily accommodated in their premises.
Civil groups are supporting them with clothes, toothpaste and even mobile flex cards so they can call home.
While some of the survivors have been allowed to continue their journeys to other provinces, others remain at the care centres while some injured are still in hospital.
The captain of the ill-fated boat is reported to be in police custody at the Lae police station.