16 Apr 2012

Rabaul Queen inquiry in PNG adjourned today - resumes in Lae tomorrow

5:54 am on 16 April 2012

The commission of inquiry into the Rabaul Queen sinking in Papua New Guinea is still trying to establish how many people were on the ferry at the time of the disaster.

The vessel sank near Finschafen on February the 2nd, with current estimates that around 220 people lost their lives, while 237 were rescued.

Don Wiseman has more:

"On Friday witnesses appearing before the commission included an official from an insurance company that had provided cover for the Rabaul Queen. It was revealed the ship was surveyed to carry 295 passengers and up to 15 crew, but earlier the company owner, Peter Sharp, said that he'd calculated that at the time it sank, the Rabaul Queen was carrying 360 passengers plus crew, although widespread views are held that it was carrying many more than the latter number. Weather office staff also gave evidence about the gale warnings given for the region at the time of the disaster and whether or not the ship's officers had easy access to this information. The commission doesn't sit today but from tomorrow will begin hearings in Lae - next week it will be in Kokopo and in the first week of May in Buka. In the third week of May the commission will sit in Kimbe before returning to Port Moresby."