“The Fishy Find” follow-up story.
I posted a story on December 30, about three bodies being found by villagers in a suspected illegal fishing boat off the coast in Manus, Papua New Guinea.
PNG authorities were unable to find the bodies reported in abandoned tuna fishing boat freezer. Here is the follow-up story from ABC PNG correspondent Liam Cochrane.
Liao Yuan Yu 68, the abandoned fishing boat Liao is believed to have been set on fire by the crew after it ran aground.
Three human bodies reportedly left in the freezer of an abandoned fishing vessel in Papua New Guinea may have been removed and replaced with three metre-long tuna, according to a journalist who accompanied police to the site.
The fishing vessel was abandoned on a remote island in the far east of PNG’s waters in early December and locals reported seeing three corpses “of Asian appearance” inside a freezer.
But when police and government officials travelled to the site this week, they found three huge tuna on trays in the freezer, which had been damaged by fire.
“The fish that were there looked like [they] had just recently been burned – you could still see blood on the fish,” said Stephanie Elizah, a senior journalist working with the Autonomous Government of Bougainville’s media bureau, who was part of the assessment trip.
“The information doesn’t add up,” she said.
“The young kid that went into the freezer area [initially], he noticed an ankle, it was decayed but it was still in the shape of a foot and was wrapped in black wrapper.
“You’re talking about a community that [has been] eating fish all their lives and they know the difference between a fish and a human body.”
It is unclear if the initial reports of human bodies were incorrect or if the corpses had been removed and replaced with the tuna.
“No one has come up and said whether they burnt the ship or they may have retrieved the corpses and buried [them] somewhere,” Elizah said.