22 Jul 2021

Bad weather likely blame for Bougainville boat disappearance

1:44 pm on 22 July 2021

A boat, with seven people onboard, that disappeared on a trip to the Bougainville's outer islands is likely to have been caught up in bad weather.

The boat was carrying Bougainville Health Minister, Charry Napto, his wife and son, and three others.

One person has been found alive but there are no signs yet of the others, or the boat.

Bougainville Atolls

Bougainville Atolls Photo: courtesy of Cathnews

Community worker, Ursula Rakova, who regularly travels between Nissan or the Atolls and Bougainville, has campaigned for years for a ferry service that can handle the sometimes big seas.

She said on this occasion the disaster and emergency office had been warning boat operators not to put to sea, because of the weather.

"I am pretty sure the boat that went down travelling to Nissan [was] because of the rough weather. And i don't know how many times we continue to cry over these to the government responsible. They just forget about our cries for safe, efficient and reliable means of transportation," she said.

Ursula Rakova said over the past 20 years as many as 200 people have lost their lives on this body of water, typically travelling in dinghies, known in Melanesia as banana boats.