A SEARCH began yesterday afternoon for eight men missing at sea in Madang, The National reports.
Provincial disaster marine safety officer Captain Pascal Yali believes the 19-foot boat they were in had either capsized or drifted into open sea while they were returning to Karkar Island on Monday and encountered strong winds.
He said if the boat had been adrift it would be heading towards East Sepik by now.
Yali said they were not aware of where the men were from but it was confirmed that there were no children or women on board.
He said relatives told him the men were transporting bags of betelnut.
He said the boat might have been over-loaded. It could normally carry only up to nine passengers, minus any additional cargo.
"There is no news of survivors yet," he said adding that contact would have been made if the people were still alive.
The men had left Karkar Island at 8am on Monday for Kubugam, on the North coast of Madang.