In a statement, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) said the team had been conducting a regular monitoring trip to Nissan Island as part of the TB/HIV program implemented by the Department of Health in collaboration with implementing partners, Catholic Health Services and Save The Children.
“Seven passengers were aboard the boat that went missing, including three health workers, a referred patient from Nissan Health Centre and chaperone, and the boat skipper and assistant crew member.
“Over the past 15 days, extensive search efforts have been undertaken by sea and air under the coordination of the ABG Disaster Office with technical guidance from the Papua New Guinea Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (PNGMRCC) within the National Maritime Safety Authority. This included the use of Australian Maritime Safety Authority aircraft.
“The ABG Disaster Office is continuing to coordinate search efforts at this time.
“Together we are doing everything in our power to find the missing and provide support to their families. While we continue to hold out to hope, so far, we have not been able to locate any of the seven members.
“The Autonomous Bougainville Government would like to express its gratitude for the overwhelming support provided by numerous partners in providing resources and funding for the search efforts, including the Department of Health, Catholic Health Services and Save the Children.
“Our prayers are with the family members of the missing persons and we ask the public to be mindful of the emotional trauma that family, friends and colleagues are going through. We appeal to the public not to discuss or make statements regarding the search efforts to ensure that family members do not receive misleading or false information.
“If you have any questions or information related to the missing boat and its passengers, please contact ABG’s Search and Rescue Coordinator with the Disaster Office, Sam Mark, on +675 79827562 or +675 73897446.”