9 Feb 2012

No doubt that sunken PNG ferry was overloaded

8:15 pm on 9 February 2012

Papua New Guinea's National Maritime Safety Authority says regardless of debate over the number of people aboard the sunken MV Rabaul Queen, it was hugely overloaded.

Two-hundred and 46 people were rescued after the ferry sank in rough seas last Thursday near the end of a 20-hour journey between Kimbe and PNG's second largest city, Lae.

About 100 people are believed to have lost their lives but only four bodies have been recovered.

The authority's executive manager operations, Captain Nurur Rahman, says the ship's owners have confirmed it was carrying three-hundred-and-50 passengers and 12 crew.

"Which makes it 362. Whereas the vessel was only licensed to carry 310. So in any case with the admission of the owners she was grossly overloaded."

Captain Nurur Rahman says there are rumours the MV Rabaul Queen's captain didn't want to leave Kimbe but was ordered to by the shipping company.