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IMO voices sympathy for ‘Rabaul Queen’ victims
Monday, 06 February 2012 16:53

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimizu has extended his sincere condolences to friends and families of all those who have been caught up in the sinking of the ferry ‘Rabaul Queen’ last week off Papua New Guinea (PNG).

‘Rabaul Queen’ sank some 9 nautical miles off Finschhafen early on February 2, shortly after transmitting a distress signal, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). She was travelling her regular route from Kimbe on New Britain Island to Lae on mainland PNG, with 12 crew and an estimated 350 passengers aboard.

The vessel’s operator Star Ships has indicated that bad weather may have caused the sinking. Survivors reportedly told rescuers that large waves had hit the vessel just before it sank.

The PNG Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre has been overseeing efforts to recover survivors, assisted by AMSA, search-and-rescue personnel from Papua New Guinea and Australia, and merchant ships in the area. A total of 246 people have been rescued to date, with over 100 still missing.

Sekimizu spoke with the Papua New Guinea high commissioner in London, Winnie Anna Kiap, to express his deep sympathy and compassion for all those involved in the accident. Sekimizu also expressed his appreciation for all those participating in the rescue efforts.

He also confirmed that IMO would be ready and willing, through its technical co-operation activities, to offer Papua New Guinea any assistance it might require with regard to domestic ferry safety in the light of this disaster.