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RAAF Orion returns from PNG rescue mission

written by australianaviation.com.au | February 7, 2012
An RAAF AP-3C Orion has returned to Darwin after taking part in search and rescue efforts off Papua New Guinea. (Dept of Defence)

A RAAF AP-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft returned to Darwin Sunday night after taking part in search and rescue efforts following the sinking of a passenger ferry off Papua New Guinea.

Some 246 passengers were rescued after the MV Rabaul Queen sank in rough seas while en route from Kimbe to Lae. Reports of how many people were on board the ship have differed widely but at least 100 are believed missing. PNG officials have scaled back rescue efforts, believing no more survivors will be found.  Five bodies have so far been discovered.

The RAAF AP-3C flew search missions over the area where the ship sank. Crew discovered two survivors clinging to debris and were able to direct rescue vessels to their location, the ADF said in a statement.

“Papua New Guinea is one of our closest friends in our region and I’m very pleased that the RAAF was able to respond so promptly to this situation,” Senator David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, said. “The Australian government greatly regrets the loss of life following the sinking of the MV Rabaul Queen and will offer any assistance we can to Papua New Guinea.”

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