More survivors

AN ADMIRABLE rescue effort has resulted in 238 survivors from the MV Rabaul Queen disaster off the coast of Finschhafen in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province yesterday but fears remain for the 100 or more people still missing.
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The ferry was operated by Star Ships, with The National this morning reporting the passenger list had still not been released.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said there were 350 people on the ferry when it sank yesterday morning while there were other estimates 300 people were on board.

It is believed the ferry capsized and it is still not clear if it had too many people on board.

AMSA said five vessels with a total of 238 survivors were en route to Lae last night, with the first ship arriving just after 1am AEDT this morning.

"Three merchant vessels remain on scene to assist with today's search," AMSA said.

"In addition to the three vessels, four aircraft will participate in this morning's search - two local helicopters, AMSA's dedicated search and rescue Dornier aircraft from Cairns and a Careflight lear jet from Townsville."

About 80% of the ferry's passengers were students about to start college or university in Lae, according to The Australian.

Built in 1983, the MV Rabaul Queen was reportedly first used as a Japanese inland sea ferry.

A government investigation is underway and bad weather is suspected to have played a role in the disaster.

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