28 Jul 2011

Search for eight people missing in PNG waters called off

2:21 pm on 28 July 2011

The marine search north of Papua New Guinea for eight people missing for two weeks in a banana boat has been called off.

Senior Search and Rescue Coordinator Fred Siroi says the two women and six men left Sakar Island heading for Kimbe in West New Britain on July the 13th.

They were seeking shelter from bad weather.

He says air and sea searches have failed to find any sign of the 7 metre white boat with an orange stripe that had been given to them by the governor of West New Britain, Peter Humphries.

Mr Siroi says although according to protocol the search has been suspended, he is still hopeful the eight will be found alive.

"If they're on the boat their chances are good, if they're staying in the boat. There have been people that have been drifting on boats for much longer than that and survived. But if they're not in the boat or if that capsized, that's another thing that their chances would be very slim."

Fred Siroi says ships and fishermen should keep a look out for the missing vessel which weather modelling estimate could be in the Bismarck Sea or in the waters west of Manus Island.