Four missing in boat disaster in Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby/PostCourier . Three women, a man and a coffin containing a dead body are missing in yet another boating disaster reported in Madang province. 
The incident was brought to the attention of staff at the Madang Provincial Disaster office. The office itself was revealed to be a disaster as it lacked a boat and life jackets and readily available funds for an immediate search and rescue operation. 
Reports received state the accident to have happened between 11 and 12 noon on Monday morning between Bonga village in Madang province and Wasu village in Morobe province.
The 23-foot banana boat powered by a sixty horse power engine had left the shores of Madang at about 6am in the morning. It was heading for Wasu.
Loaded on it were 15 people including a child, a coffin bearing the remains of a relative of these passengers and their cargo.
The boat was supposed to arrive in Wasu the same day but never made it and this was when the alarm was raised.
News of the disaster was brought to the attention of Madang Provincial Disaster Officials yesterday afternoon by relatives of the passengers, with a plea to them for an immediate search and rescue operation to be conducted for the four missing.
According to Ramu Sugar’s Police Station Commander Chief Inspector Kiweri Kisembi who hails from Wasu, and who is a relative of the passengers, eleven persons including a child had been rescued hours after the boat capsized. 
Mr Kisembi said the child has been admitted to a health centre at Etep. He has since contacted the Morobe Provincial Disaster Office in Lae and requested the survivors be taken to Angau Memorial Hospital for thorough examinations and treatment if need be.
The police officer who is in Madang Town on election duties said he was at the Jomba counting centre when word reached him prompting him to approach the provincial authorities for their assistance.
He said because the survivors were still in a state of shock, he was unsure yet how the accident happened.
However, he said he believed the boat may have capsized due to bad weather.
Yesterday he had fronted up at the Disaster Office to follow up on a letter relatives had sent on Tuesday soon after learning of the incident.
It was revealed that about K5000 plus would be required for the search and rescue to be conducted and funding which was not readily available.
Checks by officials from the Provincial and Local Level Government office in Madang with their colleagues at the Disaster Office had revealed the disaster office to be incapable of responding to any emergency as it did not have any funds or any essentials such as life jackets let alone a boat.
A disaster official revealed the office’s boat has been defunct for years and that they had been borrowing the Provincial Treasury Boat for their operations. However this had been taken away from them rendering them completely hopeless and helpless.
Officials were sent scrambling in search of the higher authorities who are presently attending a week-long budget review meeting being held at the Coastwatchers Hotel.
A disaster officer had stated besides the need to hire the boat that they would also require life jackets but this was met with a blunt ‘no’, that the funds sourced would not cover this as he said these were items that the officers ought to have purchased themselves with their own funds.
The disaster officer had also revealed the funds allocated by the Madang Government in the 2013 budget to be inadequate for the office to function effectively.
Meanwhile, a casket is now missing and presumably sunk to the bottom of the sea, while four persons two teenage girls and a couple, the parents of the child who is recovering at Etep, had been at sea for 48 hours.
Should authorities manage to secure the funds, the search and rescue should get underway today (Thursday) and all prayers are that they will be found alive.

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