Nearly 350 people are missing after a boat is believed to have sunk in bad weather off the coast of Papua New Guinea's northwest, it has been reported.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported, quoting the Australian Associated Press, that MV Rabaul Queen, which was travelling between the coastal towns of Lae and Kimbe West, went missing after sending a distress signal. Papua New Guinea's National Maritime Safety Authority spokesman told the agency: The reports have come back on that, we're getting reports.

NMSA is expected to reveal further details later in the day.

Australian rescue teams have arrived on the scene. Bad weather, I think (it is) believed to have sunk. (There are) survivors. At the moment rescuers from Australia are at the site. No fatalities have been reported, the AFP quoted a Star Ships spokesman as saying.

The spokesman also confirmed that there were about 350 people on board the vessel when it went missing.