A CORPSE believed to be that of the skipper of an outboard motor canoe carrying seven people that went missing in Western Province two weeks ago was found in the Marovo lagoon, Wednesday.
The decomposed body, as well as the boat and engine, were discovered some kilometres outside of Batuna in central Marovo, police say.
Officer in charge of Seghe Police, Morris Rikihi, told the Solomon Star two fishermen found the floating corpse near Kokoana passage, and with the help of an Adventist Church elder, transported the body to Seghe hospital for identification.
Mr Rikihi also revealed that one of his officers who was from Vella positively identified the corpse to be that of the skipper of the missing boat.
Mr Rikihi said that with the help of his officer who was related to the skipper of the boat, he confirmed the corpse to be that of his uncle – a big man and a heavy betel-nut chewer.
“It was difficult at first to positively identity who this was as we believe it had been floating at sea for the past two weeks since the boat first disappeared,” Mr Rikihi said.
“Because it was decomposing, it was difficult to identify it, but the officer knew it was his uncle when he saw his teeth, which were heavily-tainted by betel nut stain.”
Mr Rikihi said the corpse was transferred to provincial capital Gizo for post-mortem and further investigation.
Gizo resident Brian Beti confirmed to the Solomon Star the body arrived on a police boat at about 1.30pm yesterday.
“The mood here was one of sorrow and fear. Most Gizo residents believed may have involved in the missing boat incident,” Mr Beti said.
The missing boat was owned by National Forestry Resource Development Association, a local non-government organisation established to assist landowners harvest their forests sustainably.
The association’s was based at Gizo.
The boat went missing between Gizo and Choiseul. Two of the seven people have since been rescued and are under police custody.
Four other bodies are yet to be found.
Gizo police earlier said they received reports that one of those missing men was carrying a large amount of cash with him.
By JEREMY INIFIRI