Rabaul Queen Inquiry Report Delayed Till PNG Elections Conclude

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Release ‘unlikely’ till next month when government is formed

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 30, 2012) – Papua New Guinea's caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill say a report into the sinking of the Rabaul Queen won't be released until parliament sits.

The MV Rabaul Queen sank off Lae in February, killing at least 140 people.

Just over 240 people were rescued, but there are questions over how many were actually on board.

A Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the cause of the tragedy.

On Thursday, Commissioner Warwick Andrew handed his final report to the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill in Port Moresby.

In a statement Mr. O'Neill thanked Commissioner Andrew and said it's important the victims' relatives know what happened.

He said the 200-page report will not be released to the public until it's tabled in parliament.

That's unlikely to happen for at least a month, if not longer, as the country's general election is currently underway and parliament won't sit until a new government is formed.

Commission of Inquiry

The Commission of Inquiry, ordered in the wake of the disaster, wrapped up earlier this month.

Commissioner Justice Warwick Andrew heard from surviving passengers, crew members, rescue authorities, weather forecasters, lawyers and politicians.

He also heard evidence on issues ranging from weather conditions, the rescue and recovery effort and conflicting evidence on the number of people who were actually on board when the Rabaul Queen sank.

Rabaul Shipping, the owner of the ill-fated ferry, shut down operations, after the company's remaining vessels were burned when compensation negotiations broke down.

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