Three found dead after boat tragedy

Port Moresby, (Post Courier): THREE of the four people who had been missing out at sea following a boating accident between Morobe and Madang in PNG last Monday have been found but dead.
The fourth person, a male who was in his 30s is still missing and while the search and rescue team from the Madang Provincial Administration is still on the look out for him, all hopes of seeing him alive have already been dashed with the discovery of the bodies of the three he was with.
The 23-foot banana boat in which they and 11 others had been travelling in had been found along the north coast while the casket with the corpse which was also on the boat to Wasu enroute to their home village of Kabwum is still missing.
Official search and rescue for the four and the casket had commenced late Friday afternoon after the matter had been reported to authorities both in Morobe and Madang.
While the efforts have been appreciated by the relatives, they were aggrieved over the level of urgency that had been displayed by the authorities in the province.
The accident happened at about midday on Monday and an alarm had been raised late Monday afternoon when the boat had failed to show up.
It was further raised when the 11 survivors had been rescued and word conveyed through relatives in Madang to the Disaster office both in Madang and Morobe on Tuesday morning.
Due to the lack of funds for search and rescue operations, provincial administration staff were sent scrambling. It was not until late Friday that the mission was okayed and following a near confrontation with aggrieved relatives of the missing that the official search commenced.
Up till then, relatives had been praying for a miracle but their hopes were shattered when news of the discovery of one of the missing, dead on the shores of Karanget Island. The body of a female was discovered by a youth at 5am. 
Authorities were contacted and the body was taken to the Modilon Hospital morgue. The second body, also of a female was sighted by a fisherman from Yabob village at one of the town’s divers mecca- known as the Planet Rock while the third body also of a another female was found at Mugil village along the North Coast.
Relatives who had turned up at the morgue were so displeased with the authorities’ response blaming them for the deaths caused.
“Too little and too late. While we appreciate they have been found, its disheartening they are dead. They could have been alive if there was that sense of urgency to go find them. At least we can now ensure their remains will be given a dignified burial,” one of the relatives said. 
Acting Director for the Office of Disaster Rudolf Mongalee said yesterday afternoon that search would continue, although he did not indicate how long. 
He expressed remorse over the tragic outcome but added he was at least satisfied the passengers had been found offering a closure on this accident.
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