Six Survivors Arrive Safely in Country

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Six Survivors of the sea voyage mishap are  back in Papua New Guinea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Bougainville Disaster & Emergency Directorate, National Disaster Centre (NDC), and National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA) is pleased to announce the successful repatriation of the six (6) survivors of a sea voyage mishap, out of Tarawa, Kiribati and into Port Moresby, on Wednesday 20  March 2024.

The survivors arrived in the country with  close assistance of the Foreign Affairs Consular Branch team at the Port Moresby International Jackson’s Airport.

The survivors, who were adrift at sea on a 23-foot banana boat for 31 days were found at sea, in Kiribati waters, on Monday February 26.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Justin Tkatchenko, expressed utmost appreciation to the Chinese Government through its Embassy in Port Moresby, the Government of Kiribati, the Fiji High Commission in Port Moresby, National Disaster Centre, National Coordination Office of Bougainville Affairs, Bougainville Disaster and Emergency Directorate, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and its overseas mission in Suva, Fiji for the joint efforts in ensuring the safe arrival of the survivors in the country.

“We are very grateful in this particular case, for our relations with the Government of the Peoples Republic of China, and the Chinese Embassy – for their efforts through their monitoring systems, and for the prompt communications of the rescue,” Minister Tkatchenko said

“I was able to personally convey the news of this rescue to the immediate families on the day they were found, as a result of their stringent protocols.

“Additionally, we salute and thank the crew of the fishing vessel, the Lometo for their part in the month-long search and rescue, and for their care and rehabilitation efforts for the survivors.”

The Lometo discovered the missing boat in the waters of Kiribati. The boat, which had departed Lihir Island bound for Buka, had run out of fuel, causing it to drift for over a month. The survivors, including a nine-year-old boy, were found aboard the boat, rescued and taken onboard by the crew of the Lometo.

The journey of the missing boat began on Saturday, 27 January, when it departed Lihir Island. New Ireland.

 Despite dropping off a passenger at Anir Island en route to Buka, the boat failed to reach its destination, prompting concern from the owner, Mr. Bartholomew Sareke of Lontis village in the Haku Constituency of Buka.

Mr. Sareke promptly reported the incident to the Bougainville Disaster Office & Emergency Directorate, which initiated search efforts in collaboration with PNG Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre.

It  was revealed the two persons onboard were unable to survive the tough ordeal at sea right through to the end. Despite the challenges posed by bad weather, relentless search efforts led to the eventual discovery and rescue of the survivors by the Lometo.

Out of the eight passengers that travelled out from Anir Island, Nason Koesana (48), Stanis Logan (41), Bensley Kaskas (35), Max Ben (9), Raynard Raiasok (25) and Liddy Birigin Kenehata (25) were rescued.

The survivors are currently in Port Moresby undergoing humanitarian assistance in medical checks, care and trauma counselling, spiritual support, and also awaiting interview by the NCD Homicide team.

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