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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 11, 2000 – The National)---The Foreign Affairs and Trade Department in Port Moresby is asking the public’s help in the five-month search of 40 illegal Chinese immigrants who entered Papua New Guinea on a boat in West New Britain province.

Sixty Chinese immigrants arrived ashore in August and were transferred to Lae, where all of them escaped.

Seventeen immigrants were located and later repatriated to China, according to a statement last week by Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Evoa Lalatute.

Three immigrants are being detained at the Boroko police cells awaiting repatriation. Foreign Affairs officials have reportedly approached the Chinese Embassy to fund their repatriation.

The department is appealing to the public to provide information on the whereabouts of the remaining immigrants.

In the statement released last week in Port Moresby, Lalatute said the incident is a direct violation to the PNG Immigration Act.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman told The National yesterday that they do not have any information on the remaining immigrants scattered nationwide.

National Capital District and Central Police Commander Raphael Huafolo said he had no details since Foreign Affairs officers were working on the matter.

He reiterated that it is an immigration matter and that Foreign Affairs officers are investigating the situation.

Huafolo said he has not been briefed on the latest developments and any enquires should be referred to the Foreign Affairs Department.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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