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No Foreigners aboard Sunken New Guinea Ferry, 100+ still missing

What: MV Rabaul Queen en route from the Kimbe Wharf in West New Britain Province and from Rabaul to Lae.
Where: Papua New Guinea
When: Feb 2, 2012
Who: 362 aboard (350 passengers, 12 crew)
Why: Three merchant vessels are still searching for one hundred and twenty people who are missing after the MV Rabaul Queen Ferry sank nine miles off the coast of New Guinea.

By 9:30 am, a patrolling Australian Navy ship picked up and responded to the distress call. The vesse capsized in strong winds and rough seas around 5am. By daylight, two choppers a search and rescue Dornier and a Careflight Learjet assisted in the search.

Twenty hours into the route and nearly to their destination, between Kimbe and Lae, the shipping company lost contact with the ferry, and early Thursday morning the ferry was not on the satellite tracker. Weather conditions blocked rescue efforts. The ferry sank in 3,300-foot water leaving the 246 survivors battling 16-foot swells and 45 mph ten miles offshore, until rescuers arrived. The 68 degree weather was survivable.

The MV Rabaul Queen was built in Japan.

Most of the passengers were students returning to their families from school.

Three International bulk carriers and two international tankers picked up survivors who were floating around in inflatable rafts.

The National Weather Service had issued maritime warnings to moor ships this week due to strong winds.