9 May 2012

PNG's Rabaul Queen sinking described as natural disaster

11:45 am on 9 May 2012

The Chief Administrator of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says the owner of the Rabaul Queen referred to the sinking as a natural disaster, and denied any responsibility.

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

Megan Whelan has more.

"The Administrator, Lawrence Disin, told the Commission of Inquiry into the sinking that he communicated with the owner, Peter Sharp, after some of Rabaul Shipping's boats were seized by relatives of those missing at sea. He says Mr Sharp referred to the sinking as a natural disaster and said his company was not responsible for the tragedy. In a letter more ten days after the sinking, Mr Sharp said the accident was an act of God, and that the company had no income, and could not afford the 300,000 kina the relatives were demanding. In another letter, he wrote there was nothing wrong with the ship, and that the crew were competent and did their job properly. Hearings have now been completed in Buka, and will resume in Kimbe next week."