30 Mar 2012

Hearings into PNG ferry sinking to begin after Easter

4:38 pm on 30 March 2012

The secretary of the Papua New Guinea Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the MV Rabaul Queen says hearings will begin after Easter.

The ferry sank off the coast of Morobe province almost two months ago and although disaster officials now put the death toll at 220, estimates of the number who died have ranged from 100 to more than 300.

Plans for an inquiry at an estimated cost of about six million US dollars were announced within days of the sinking and commissioners appointed but Mathew Yuangu says the government had to find the money before work could begin.

"Commissions of Inquiry are not necessarily budgeted items. The government has to source money from other projects that are under the budget to bring up the amount or the cost of the inquiry. So basically it's not a budgeted item so they had to look for money somewhere."

Mathew Yuangu says the schedule of hearings will be made public next week.