20 May 2010

Two dead, 40 feared drowned as PNG boat capsizes

11:10 am on 20 May 2010

Two Papua New Guineans are dead and at least 40 are missing, feared drowned, after an overloaded boat capsized in rough seas off the country's northeast coast.

Two bodies have been recovered and another 18 people accounted for, while the search for more survivors continues.

Madang's disaster and emergency coordinator Pius Ikuma says the vessel was roughly 30 kilometres off the Rai Coast when it capsized.

He says at the moment it is believed overloading and technical problems were the cause.

PNG's National newspaper reports that 60 people were on board the MV Nara when it foundered, double the boat's its normal capacity.

A survivor told the newspaper some men had threatened the skipper with a knife so the crew had no option but to load their bags of produce.

Most of the missing are from Tep Tep village on Madang's Rai Coast.

These villagers have no road access to Madang and rely solely on boats to get their produce to market.