Authorities in the Papua New Guinea province of New Ireland fear that ten people may have drowned after an overloaded dinghy capsized at the weekend.
The provincial administrator, Robinson Sirambat, says they have recovered three bodies, including those of two young boys.
He says 16 people made it to shore and searches are continuing for the remaining seven, but says the chances of finding them alive are slim.
Mr Sirambat says the dinghy was licensed to carry nine, but was carrying 26 passengers and cargo.
He says there are considering legal action against the owners.
"And I have repeatedly called on boat owners and operators in the past to take heed of provincial government warnings not to risk the lives of their passengers in the interests of making money, to venture out during rough seas and bad weather warnings."