1 May 2004

Fiji's Lakeba islanders prepare to receive Ratu Mara's body

7:12 am on 1 May 2004

The people on the home island of Fiji's late former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, have completed preparations to receive his body this morning.

Ratu Mara's casket has been travelling by ship overnight from Suva, where he was given a state funeral service and farewell by tens of thousands of mourners yesterday.

The ship will arrive offshore from Lakeba island, and the casket is expected to be transferred by a specially built pontoon at nine o'clock this morning.

Ratu Mara's body will be taken to his home in Tubou village where it will lie in state until his burial on Monday morning.

Ratu Mara was paramount chief of Lau and several thousand islanders have already gathered to help with preparations.

Many thousands more from throughout Fiji will arrive in the next two days to be present for the final rites.