Papua New Guinea names 183 missing from sunk ferry

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Relatives and friends of the passengers of the MV Rabaul Queen ferry that sank wait in Lae, Papua New Guinea 2 February, 2012Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Officials have asked relatives and friends to help verify the 183 'missing' names on the draft list

Papua New Guinea authorities have released a name list of 183 people still missing from the ferry disaster two weeks ago.

Officials say the list, published in a national newspaper on Tuesday, is a "draft" and asked relatives to step forward to help verify the names.

It was thought more than 100 people were missing after the ferry sank off the island nation's north coast.

The youngest on the list is a three-month-old boy, said Australian media.

Small boats were still searching for bodies on Tuesday, but it is likely that the search will be called off on Wednesday, reports said.

Patilias Gamato, director of the local disaster response, blamed the ''defective'' passenger list provided by the company that operated the ferry.

The MV Rabaul Queen sank in rough water east of Lae, the South Pacific country's second-largest city, some 10 miles (16km) from shore. Authorities said 246 people were rescued.

The ferry, operated by PNG company Star Ships, was travelling on a routine route between the towns of Kimbe and Lae when it sent out a distress signal.

On Monday, PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said his government had asked the Australian Maritime Authority to lead investigations into the disaster.

"Those that are found to be negligent in this disaster will face the law,'' he told the national Post Courier newspaper. ''This is the biggest and worst sea disaster we have had in the country."

He added that the government was considering asking for Japanese help in bringing the sunk ferry to the surface.