Child still missing after boating mishap

A child is still missing at sea, believed to have drowned, after the boat she was in, along with 29 other passengers, capsized near Pityluh Island in Manus on Thursday morning.

The overloaded boat, which included four other children and 25 adults, was on its way to a funeral when it encountered strong winds and rough sea.

Police in Manus say the 23 foot-60 horse powered engine left Lorengau with other boats on Thursday when they encountered strong winds and rain.

The overloaded boat with 30 passengers was nearing Pityluh Island, which is about 10 minutes out of Lorengau, when they capsized.

Most of the passengers managed to hold onto the side of the boat and drifted for half-an-hour before they were rescued by another boat from Pityluh.

An Australian Navy vessel was within the area and stepped in to assist with diving as three passengers were unaccounted for. Unfortunately, the exercise proved to be unsuccessful.

On Friday, two bodies were recovered near Mokoreng village; that of a six-year-old boy and a 17-year-old female.

A four-year-old girl remains missing.

Manus PPC, Chief Inspector David Yapu, appealed to people living along the coastline of Manus, to be on the lookout for the missing child.

The Provincial Disaster office with  Police again appealed to boat operators/owners and travelling passengers not to overload  and travel out at sea at this point of time due to the bad weather condition, with strong winds at 25/34 knots and rough seas.

PPC Yapu said the sea mishap was the end result of overloading and ignorance of travelling out at sea during bad weather.

Sally Pokiton