Two drowned and 11 missing in PNG bad weather
Two people have been confirmed dead and 11 are still missing in Papua New Guinea's Milne Bay Province after a spate of bad weather over the past fortnight.
Two people have been confirmed dead and 11 are still missing in Papua New Guinea's Milne Bay Province after a spate of bad weather over the past fortnight. Six separate incidents across the province have stretched local disaster authorities and search teams but efforts to find the missing are still underway involving a helicopter, and several vessels. Milne Bay's provincial administrator Michael Kape told Koroi Hawkins most of the incidents involved overloaded boats going out to sea in spite of strong wind warnings for the region.
MICHAEL KAPE: There are about eleven people that we are yet to recover, account for, in the disaster. And one of these persons is actually in the incident at Goodenough, while the ten of them are in the most recent accident.
KOROI HAWKINS: Do you think this is a case of people just not heeding warnings and overloading boats, or is there awareness?
MK: First of all I would say that it's people, individuals taking the responsibility and ownership of their own lives and property. In a lot of incidences warnings have been issued, awareness have been conducted but people just simply are ignorant. Not taking heed of the warnings that are given. Secondly, we need to improve on the control measures. We have a challenge here to try and get all those dinghies, boats to actually register they've been certified as safe craft to load people.
KH: And in terms of the weather warnings, how often are they given out and how can people get them?
MK: We are dependent on the national weather service to provide the strong wind warnings, and we have the provincial disaster management office through which the national weather service provides the strong wind warning messages. We have the radio network, 2-way radio networks through which we get our site officers here to relay to boats and to relay to out stations where our government stations are and the expectation is that once these warnings are given, they then further transmit information to the general public at their locality. That we have been doing but we also having a situation where a lot of the radios on the boats are also non-functional. A lot of our radio stations in government stations, hospitals and schools around the provinces are also not working effectively, so it's generally not covering the entire province. The other method that's also being used quite effectively is through Radio Milne Bay and it's transmission to the entire province is also limited. So our ability to translate the strong wind warning messages through Radio Milne Bay is also limited to the areas where Radio Milne Bay signals can be received.
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