Search still on for missing PNG scientists | Pacific Beat

Search still on for missing PNG scientists

Search still on for missing PNG scientists

Updated 14 February 2012, 18:31 AEDT

Authorities in Papua New Guinea have still not given up the search for five national scientists who went missing in August last year in the waters off New Britain island.

The scientists with PNG's Institute of Medical Research were researching malaria related diseases in PNG's West New Britain province when they vanished.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol

Speaker: Dr Manuel Hetzel, Head of Population Health Unit at PNG's Institute of Medical Research; Chief Inspector Samson Siguyaru, head of West New Britain Provincial Police

NANOL: It's almost seven months since they were reported missing after they failed to arrive at a village on an Island in PNG's West New Britain province on August last year.

The scientists were going there to do research on malarial related diseases in Kimbe.

The boat they had hired to travel on was later found floating in the seas far away in PNG's East Sepik province.

Police including maritime search and rescue authorities have until now, not been able to find the five missing scientists.

PNG's Institute of Medical Research has posted a $US10 000 US reward for any information leading to finding the missing scientists.

It says they do not know what has happened to the group of five scientists.

The Institute's Head of Population Health Unit, Dr Manuel Hetzel says they are hoping someone would come forward with any information on the missing scientists.

He says they want to know what actually happened to their colleagues.

HETZEL: The most difficult thing for the families and all friends of these missing staff is that until now we do not know what has happened to them, we don't know whether they're alive or whether they are dead. And the most important thing for us really is to eventually find out what has happened, to eventually find out whether they are alive, whether they are dead, and where they are. And this is why we are really appealing to everybody in the community who knows something, not somebody who has heard a rumour, because we have heard so many rumours, but unfortunately none of these rumours has led us to something so far. So we're appealing to everybody who knows something to just come forward and at least help us to find some peace of mind and find out what has really happened.

NANOL: Police in PNG's West New Britain province say they're still investigating the disappearance of the five scientists.

Provincial Police Commander, Chief Inspector Samson Siguyaru says however, that they need more funds to send officers to talk to villagers where the scientists were last seen in Kimbe.

He says he has sent a request for funding to the PNG Police headquarters.

SIGUYARU: Yes I've sent my budget plan to the Commissioner and I'm still waiting for the money to be released and then I can deploy my guys, because we have the police from investigators both from Port Moresby and the local police here, in that area we need funds to hire cars and we need money to buy camping items for our police officers, we need money for the allowances, we need money for everything. And if we don't have those funds available then I don't think this investigation will go anywhere.

NANOL: PPC Siguyaru says police at the moment do not have some information which could help them in their investigations.

SIGUYARU: Since the beginning of the year I've been in contact with certain ... we're getting a lot of good information and we're linking that information from different angles and then we will analyse those intelligence briefs and we have come up with some good leads. Unfortunately our police headquarters cannot assist in funding and that information that we've been getting, we get out and to those culprits we may not get them. And then I'm a bit frustrated because you see our ... since last year and the government has not come out and assisted us with anything.

NANOL: The scientists are team leader Gibson Gideon, Leonard Vavana, George Dogoya, Tania Oakiva and Lydia Petrus, all from PNG, vanished after launching their 23-foot boat from the town of Milimata on August 1 last year.

Authorities say they could have been lost at sea after they failed to arrive at the nearby Bali-Vitu islands, in PNG's West New Britain province to carry out the malaria research.

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