19 Apr 2012

PNG probe hears Rabaul Queen may have carried 450

12:22 pm on 19 April 2012

The inquiry into the sinking of the Rabaul Queen in Papua New Guinea has been told there could have been more than 450 people on board.

The ship was surveyed to carry 295 passengers and 15 crew, and its owner has previously told the inquiry it was carrying 360 passengers plus crew when it sank in February.

Megan Whelan reports.

"The Deputy Provincial Administrator of district services for Morobe province, Patilias Gamato, told the Commission that after the rescue operation, 230 survivors were counted. He says relatives were asked to come forward and name missing people, and many discrepancies were found with the official manifest. Mr Gamato says to the best of their knowledge, 219 people are missing, meaning there were 453 on board. The Commission of Inquiry has also heard from crew and passengers, who described the ship as listing to the left when it left Kimbe. They said the ship was overcrowded, and that life jackets, which were kept in a locked cabinet, were not handed out when the ship sank."