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Missing Boat Passengers rescued by China Fishing Vessel in Solomon Seas

The Directorate of Disaster and Emergency of the ABG Department of Community Government has announced that a local boat that went missing off the coast of Buka Island a week ago was successfully rescued today.

A fishing vessel from China, the FV Viva Bear 707, operated by Fair Well Fishery Group under the PNG flag, successfully rescued the missing boat with two passengers adrift in the Solomon seas for a week.

The Disaster office reported that the banana boat carrying two passengers, identified as Mr. Jasua Maga and Jonathan Bill, embarked on its regular fishing run just off the Coast of Buka Island, however, it failed to return as scheduled, prompting family members to initiate a search along the coastline extending to Torokina the following day and further reported the matter to the Disaster and Emergency Office.

The Directorate of Disaster and Emergency, coordinated efforts to locate the missing boat and communication was established with the Papua New Guinea Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (PNG MRCC), which in turn liaised with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Cairns, Australia.

A search and rescue (SAR) operation was launched on March 21, 2024, with assistance from the Royal Australian Air Force, however, initial attempts to locate the missing boat were unsuccessful, and the Australian team returned without success.

PNG MRCC further advised Bougainville to focus their search on the west coast, specifically Torokina, Siwai, Buin, and South Bougainville, however, despite these efforts, the missing boat remained elusive.

Finally, on March 26, 2024, hope was restored when the fishing vessel FV Viva Bear 707, spotted the distressed boat in the Solomon Seas. The crew of the vessel promptly initiated a rescue operation, safely rescuing Mr Jasua Maga and Mr Jonathan Bill.

The coordination of efforts highlights the importance of international cooperation and necessary action in maritime emergencies. Mr Jasua Maga and Mr Jonathan Bill are currently receiving medical attention and support following their distressing ordeal.

The Department of Community Government in consultation with the National Maritime Safety Authority, shall work on the safe return of the two fishermen who are currently on board FV Viva Bear 707.

The Secretary for Department of Community Government Belinda Lanbong again stressed the importance of complying with weather forecast warnings supplied each day through the Directorate of Disaster and Emergency, adding that the Bougainville Small Crafts Act once in place will ensure boat owners and operators are compliant with maritime safety requirements, such as ensuring their boat and machine are sea worthy in all conditions. 

Photo credit: FV Viva Bear 707 - Boat mishap survivors on the Chinese Fishing vessel with their boat end engine.

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