SYDNEY, February 2. / ITAR-TASS /. More than 200 passengers were rescued from the ferry "MV Rabaul Queen" that sank today in the north-west of Papua New Guinea, about 100 people are still missing. This was announced by the official representative of theAustralian authorities.
"This is obviously a major tragedy - said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. - "Given the likely very high loss of life here, I think when this news come to the attention of Australians around the country they will be thinking about the people of Papua New Guinea as they respond to this tragedy."
The Australian Maritime Safety Service reports that 219 people were rescued. Eight ships and three helicopters are involved in the operation. The service's press secretary Carly Lusk said that it may be possible to avoid a large number of casualties due to good weather conditions.
The distress signal was received from the ship this morning.
The reasons for the incident were not established. At the time of the accident there were more than 300 people on board.