8 May 2012

More grim testimony at PNG's Rabaul Queen inquiry

6:56 pm on 8 May 2012

Survivors have been detailing the grim conditions on the Rabaul Queen as the inquiry into the Papua New Guinea ferry disaster continues.

The death toll from the tragedy has estimated at more than 200.

The commission of inquiry has finished sitting in Buka in Bougainville and will next convene in Kimbe.

Don Wiseman reports.

"A key concern for investigators has been to try and establish whether the ship was overloaded. Survivors have told of how packed the vessel was, with many people forced to sit on the floor, unable to stretch out and not willing to leave their places for fear of losing them. This despite the heavy rain affecting the open upper decks. Mary Jane Paha talked of passengers taking turns to sleep because of the lack of room. Mekevi Havia told the commission that passengers and their luggage should be weighed before they board the ship. He also says crew need to better trained and more professional than those he encountered on the Rabaul Queen. Mitchell Denesius Tepon, whose brother his wife and their daughter lost their lives in the disaster, says he'd been sleeping when the disaster began with crew yelling for passengers to try and balance the ship. The vessel had been listing but this had worsened in surging seas when the Rabaul Queen left Kimbe for Lae."