A report was sent to the family of missing Australian sailor Mr John Rice on the 10th of August 2012 by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The report is from the Australian embassy in Jakarta Indonesia.
Dear Mr Rice
Please see below the report from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The Australian Embassy will liaise regularly with Indonesian Search and Rescue officials over the weekend and we will update you as information comes to hand.
PM 09/08/12 a Canadian Embassy Consular Official contacted the Australian Embassy in Jakarta to advise of a shipwreck, off the Southern coast of Indonesia (near Kupang). The Canadian Embassy had earlier received this information from Mr Gosselin Guellaume (a Canadian citizen who had survived the incident) and, separately from Indonesian officials.
At 0845hrs on 10/08/12, the Australian Embassy contacted the Maritime
Security Coordinating Board (BAKORKAMLA) who stated that NTT Maritime Police (POLAIR) were coordinating efforts with the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) to search for the missing Australian citizen.
BAKORKAMLA stated they were aware of the shipwreck and that a survivor from the shipwreck, a Canadian citizen, was currently at Kupang Immigration Office.
At 0900hrs, the Australian Embassy contacted the Kupang Immigration Office who confirmed a Canadian citizen by the name of Mr Gosselin Guellaume was currently at their office.
At 0955 hrs, the Australian Embassy spoke with Mr Guellaume who stated that he and Mr John Rice (Australian citizen) had departed Darwin on 14/07/12 bound for Indonesia on the vessel “Argonaut”. He said that it took three days for the boat to reach Indonesian waters, where they stayed offshore from a local small village in the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). Mr Guellaume said that Mr Rice was the captain and owner of the boat. According to Mr Guellaume, the boat sank on 25/07/12 due to rough waters around Flores Island. After floating at sea for two days, Mr Guellaume was rescued by a fishing boat.
Mr Guellaume said after being rescued, he was at sea for another 12 days on board the fishing boat before docking at Kupang Harbour.
Mr Guellaume believes that Mr Rice is deceased as he saw him floating in the water and had no pulse when he checked.
At 1005hrs, the Australian Embassy contacted the Captain, NTT Maritime Police who advised that he is currently in charge of the search and rescue efforts. He also said that he is coordinating with BASARNAS who have sent two boats to search for the missing Australian Citizen. The Captain also said that he has placed an order for the Maritime Ports in Maumere and Laurantuka, to search for the missing person. The Australian Embassy provided him with their contact details and he agreed to provide them with further updates once available.
The report says that Mr Guellaume believes John Rice is deceased and his vessel the Argonaut has sunk in Indonesian waters.
Recently DFAT have been supplied with a copy of an email sent by friends of John Rice the owners of a vessel the Kanaloa. The Kanaloa was travelling with and was located within a few miles of the Argonaut when it supposedly sank, in the email from the owners of the Kanaloa they state that the weather conditions were vastly different and contradict the information reported by Mr Gosselin Guellaume in the DFAT report of the 10 August 2012
Mr Rice’s parents are both elderly and frail, his daughter lives in America and has two small children, his brother Bruce is not in good health, they are the only family and they are having great difficulty getting assistance and good help and guidance from DFAT.
They are all suffering from the uncertainty and DFAT is passing them from pillar to post.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are reliant on other authorities proceed with enquiries to try and find a resolution.
To date DFAT is leaving Mr Rice’s family to ask these authorities to take action.
The manner in which the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs are handling this situation is appalling.
They need to be held accountable for their inactions and lack of genuine support for the family of this Australian citizen.