THE 23-foot dinghy that was carrying the five research scientists from the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) was found in Wewak, East Sepik, over the weekend, The National reports.
West New Britain provincial police commander Thomas Reu said yesterday that a photo was taken of the boat and sent to the PNGIMR and disaster officials in Kimbe.
They confirmed that it was the boat that the five had got on when they went missing in Talasea waters early this month.
The five are team leader Gibson Gideon from Enga, research scientists Leonard Vavana from East New Britain, George Dogoya from Lufa, Eastern Highlands, plus female members Tania Oakiva from Gulf and Lydia Petrus, from Ialibu, Southern Highlands.
Reu said police had not ruled out foul play.
The five scientists and the vessel's crew had planned to travel from Milimata, on the mainland, to the offshore island of Bali on Aug 1.
They never arrived at their destination.
He said search and rescue operations were still going on.
Acting West New Britain disaster director Leo Mampmani confirmed that two bodies – one female and male – had been found but their identities were yet to be verified.
He said it was important to verify the identities of bodies being washed ashore because apart from the five, another seven people had gone missing in West New Britain waters in July and had not been found.
"The bodies resurfacing could be anyone, which is why verification and confirmation by authorities must be undertaken," he said.
The provincial disaster committee chairman and West New Britain provincial administrator Steven Raphael was expected to give a daily update.