Thursday, February 2, 2012

Papua New Guinea: Passenger Ferry Sinks with 350 People, Rescue Continues 130 still missing

A passenger ferry with an estimated 350 people on board has sunk off Papua New Guinea.

An airplane from Australia, three helicopters and six ships are scouring the search area after the MV Rabaul Queen went down while travelling from Kimbe on the island of New Britain to coastal town of Lae on the main island, Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

Around 219 people are believed to have been rescued from the water so far.

Operator Star Ships said it lost contact with the ferry at about 6am on Thursday (2000 GMT Wednesday) while it was travelling between Kimbe and Lae in the east of the Pacific nation.

It blamed "bad weather" for the disaster.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called the incident a "major tragedy" and said her country was providing assistance to its near neighbour.

"Given the likely very high loss of life here, I think when this news comes to the attention of Australians around the country they will be thinking about the people of PNG as they respond to this tragedy," she added. Read More