by Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby
Two nurses from the Daru General Hospital were amongst ten passengers rescued from sea in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday) morning.
The passengers were heading to the Western provincial capital of Daru from Baimuru in the Gulf province when they experienced engine failure. They were drifting towards Australia when they were picked up by one of OK Tedi’s shipping vessels, the MV Fly Alliance.
It was the light from a torch that saved them. They were seen by members of OK Tedi’s MV Fly Alliance in Western province waters.
All 12 were brought into Port Moresby at 10 this morning and later transported to the National Disaster Centre at Waigani, where they underwent medical checks. The 12 included two nurses, students and other family members.
Following this incident, acting director of the National Disaster Centre, Martin Mose issued strong warnings on all-out board motor-power boat skippers and small ship operators to limit their trips out to sea during the current monsoon weather.
He stressed that despite operators’ experiences sailing in rough weather, it is important to follow instructions from the National Weather Service. But for the survivors, travelling by boat is their only form of transport.
In fine weather, it takes a full day to travel from Baimuru to Daru, but many take the risk to travel to Daru or Kerema during wet weather. They said it was a near death experience and do not want to see other families go through this.
Meanwhile, another boat with eight passengers who were also travelling with the group is still missing.
The rescued passengers will be flying to Daru once their airline tickets are ready.