The coastal ferry sank in the early hours of Feb. 2 with up to 350 people aboard off the Pacific nation’s east coast, according to the Associated Press. Although Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard immediately warned of a likely high loss of life, calm sea conditions were aiding the rescue effort. Eight boats and three helicopters diverted to the scene had plucked 219 people from waters by lunchtime, Reuters reported. But that left more than 100 people still missing. Operator Star Ships told the AFP it lost contact with the vessel around daybreak amid “bad weather” as it sailed from Kimbe to Lae.