22 Jul 2021

Bougainville boat tragedy survivor says seas very rough

4:35 pm on 22 July 2021
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the type of craft the group were travelling in Photo: RNZ

A man who swam ashore after a boat he and six other were travelling in on Saturday capsized in Bougainville waters has told officials the seas were very rough.

The seven people, including Bougainville Health Minister Charry Napto along with his wife and son, had left Buka for Nissan Island on Saturday morning for what is normally a three-hour trip.

The search for the missing six continues.

The man, now in Buka Hospital, said just 300 metres off Nissan waves hitting the front of the boat caused panic, prompting Napto's wife and son Keith to jump off the boat.

The National newspaper reported that the efforts to then pick the couple up caused the boat to take on water and it quickly sank.

The seven grabbed what they could to serve a flotation devices but were soon separated.

The man reached the shore of Pinipel as darkness fell and he was found by a villager on Sunday.

Napto, who is the Atolls MP, had only just become the Bougainville Health Minister, following the sudden death of Raymond Masono.