Survivor tells of ordeal on rough seas

National

THE man who swam ashore after a boat he and six other were travelling in on Saturday capsized has told officials that the seas were very rough.
The seven people, including Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Health Minister Charry Napto, his wife and son, had left Buka for Nissan Island at 11am on Saturday for the three-hour trip.
The search for the missing six continues.
The man who was yesterday flown to the Buka Hospital said the boat had capsized about 300m away from Nissan Island.
He said waves hitting the front of the boat had caused panic, with Napto’s wife and son Keith jumping off the boat.
The boat operator had to slow down to pick them up.
But in the attempt to rescue them, the boat took in water.
The weight of the two 40-horse-power engines dragged the boat downwards.
The man told officials that the boat sank quickly, forcing Napto, his wife, son Keith, the boat skipper and a Digicel engineer to hold onto a drifting pallet.
The man said he used a 25-litre petrol tank to keep afloat.
Terence the skipper’s son used two buckets with air tight lids to keep afloat.
He said that after a while, they started drifting apart.
Terence and the survivor swam together for a while before Terence decided to swim ahead to Pinipel Island to get help.
He is still missing.
As darkness fell, the man was on his own until he reached the shore of Pinipel.
He was found by a villager on Sunday.

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