He was returning from a betelnut supply run to remote Tekadu, in the Wau Rural LLG of Morobe Province.
Local authorities confirmed that the man was swept away by the river’s strong currents after he lost his footing on a log connecting the riverbanks.
Eyewitness and police reservist, Ben Bowney, who was with the man and 40 other locals who travelled to remote Tekadu, witnessed the incident.
Bowney said they mobilised and conducted a search, but were unsuccessful in locating the man.
While there are people still combing the river's banks for the man, Wau police station commander, Inspector Paul Naka, said with the COVID-19 lockdown in place, people should just stay at home, and adhere to SOE restrictions, including betelnut trading.
(The treacherous crossing - Photo courtesy: Sampson Bonai/Ben Bowney)