New AWU Scandal ‘Evidence’ Prompts Coalition Ouster Calls for PM Julia Gillard
The Coalition has ramped up its calls for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to resign following the release of a new document that showed she actively argued for the incorporation of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) Workplace Reform Association. Wikimedia Commons

More than 200 passengers and crew have been rescued from the sea off Papua New Guinea (PNG) after a ferry carrying up to 350 people sank.

The Rabaul Queen sank after it hit bad weather, according to officials for Star Ships.

The vessel was travelling between Kimbe and Lae in the east of the Pacific country and sank 10 miles off the coast of Finschhafen,

"[There are] survivors. Rescuers from Australia are at the site. No fatalities have been reported yet," a Star Ships spokesman told AFP.

Australia's Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said 219 people had been saved. Rescue teams and divers were continuing the hunt for the missing.

"There are eight merchant vessels on scene, five of which have recovered survivors," AMSA said.

An Australian search and rescue aircraft as well as three local helicopters were also assisting.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called the incident a major tragedy.

"Given the likely very high loss of life here, Australians will be thinking about the people of PNG," Gillard said.

Local reports suggest many of Rabaul Queen's passengers were students and trainee teachers.