On February 1st, the passenger ferry MV Rabaul Queen sank in heavy seas off Papua Guinea. The search for survivors continues.
Papua New Guinea’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Center spokesperson Nerae Mari Mahu said estimates of the numbers on board the vessel ranged between 300 and 350, but that the owners of the 47m vessel, Rabaul Shipping, were yet to produce the relevant documents. She confirmed reports that many of those aboard were either students or teachers.
“We’re optimistic that with this amount of co-operation that the rescue will go well,” she said. “We won’t rest until everyone is accounted for.”
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is currently providing assistance to the PNG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) by way of aviation assets (including AMSA Dornier, Careflight lear jet and Australian Defence Force P-3C Orion fixed-wing aircraft and local helicopters) to assist the merchant vessels on scene.
In an update to our previous report yesterday, the five vessels with survivors on board proceeded to Lae last night, with the first vessel arriving shortly after 1:00am AEDT today.
Updated reports from the five vessels indicate there were approximately 246 survivors recovered yesterday (Thursday 2 February).
Transfer of survivors from the merchant vessels to Lae is being coordinated by PNG authorities. PNG officials are processing the survivors on arrival in Lae.
Four AMSA search and rescue personnel arrived in Lae on Thursday evening to provide further assistance to RCC Australia and PNG MRCC. AMSA is further assisting the PNG MRCC by providing search area planning and drift modeling.
AMSA and the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre are working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.