SEARCH FOR PNG FERRY SURVIVORS SCALED BACK

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More than 100 passengers yet to be accounted for

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 5, 2012) – Papua New Guinea authorities have scaled back their search for survivors from the sinking of a passenger ferry, as hopes of finding more survivors fade.

PNG's National Maritime Safety Authority has moved from search to recovery mode after failing to find a survivor for 56 hours.

Several bodies were found in the water over the weekend, and have been brought to Lae.

Those who were plucked to safety also remain in Lae.

Lae Chamber of Commerce President Alan McClay has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat they are doing what they can for the survivors.

"Very miserable and of course they've lost all their possessions and we've managed to put together a few clothes and blankets for them. There's a desperate need now for the supply of clothes," he said.

The passenger ferry, MV Rabaul Queen, sank on Thursday after being hit by what its operator described as a freak wave between the popular New Britain dive spot Kimbe and Lae, carrying 351 passengers and 12 crew.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand International reported that the PNG Maritime Authority is questioning whether the MV Rabaul Queen and several others ferries still in service are suited to the long-haul open ocean services they are used for.]

The number of survivors stands at 246.

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