Two Papuans survivors of boat accident quizzed

Nethy Dharma Somba
, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura
23 April 2006

Police questioned Friday two survivors of a boat accident, who were on board the boat when it capsized a day earlier while traveling to Papua New Guinea, Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Taufik Pribadi said.

In addition to questioning the two survivors, including a Papua New Guinean passenger, Taufik said, the police had also questioned three fishermen who witnessed the incident.

The two survivors were among 21 passengers who were believed to be on their way to seek asylum in Papua New Guinea. One of them died in the incident and a search and rescue operation continued Friday for the 18 missing passengers.

"An investigation is being carried out, including tracking down the owner of the boat," Taufik said.

The investigation was expected to lead to the owners of backpacks found at the site of the incident as well. "The backpacks contain various important documents, including school diplomas," Taufik said.

The backpacks also contained a banner reading, "West Papua students are being hunted by the TNI (Indonesian Military) so seek asylum in another country."

Yulianus Pigome, one of the survivors, said that he intended to go to PNG to study English before furthering his studies in Australia.

Yulianus, a graduate of the school of socio-political science of Cendrawasih University, was really intent on studying abroad, especially after he completed his TOEFL test.

Yulianus decided to seek other opportunities after his application for a scholarship to Australia was rejected and he received no response to his application to work at the Papuan Training Center.

He said he did not know any of the other passengers, except Melky Pigay, who is still missing.

Yulianus said that he paid Rp 300,000 (US$32.43) for the trip to PNG, adding that both Melky and himself had the same objective -- to study English in PNG.

The other survivor, John Wenda, admitted he had lived in Vanimo city, PNG since 1984. He was returning to Vanimo after shopping in Jayapura.

The body of the deceased, identified as Salmon Keiya, had been taken by his family for burial, Taufik said.


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