12 Apr 2012

PNG Rabual sinking probe underway

3:13 pm on 12 April 2012

The owner of Rabaul Shipping, which operated the MV Rabaul Queen that sank in Papua New Guinea two months ago is continuing to give evidence on the disaster.

Peter Sharp began his testimony yesterday to the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking, which occured off the Morobe province coast, killing an estimated 220 people.

Beverley Tse reports.

"A survivor of the disaster, a student, George Turme was the first witness to be called in the hearings which began this week."

Mr Turme told the Commission of Inquiry the ferry was overloaded on the trip between Kimbe to Lae, with an estimated 500 people. He told the counsel assisting the Commissioner, Manuel Varitimos, that passengers on board had no space to sleep.

He says strong winds and large waves caused the vessel to capsize and he made it to safety by swimming five minutes to a life raft. He told the Commission of Inquiry that life jackets on board the ship were locked up and no emergency evacuation procedures had been given to travelers prior to setting sail.