27 Jul 2009

New Zealand to help investigate boating tragedy in Kiribati

10:46 am on 27 July 2009

A three member team accident investigation team from New Zealand will travel to Kiribati tomorrow following a boating disaster which left at least 15 dead and many others missing.

The New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an inquiry at the request of the Kiribati Government .

Reports say 55 people were in a double-hulled sailing from the capital, Tarawa to the island of Maiana last week when it capsized.

18 people are still missing and 22 others survived.

Chief investigator Captain, Tim Burfoot, says the President of Kiribati has asked for assistance from NZ to investigate the accident.

He says the President wants a report produced with findings and recommendations to help prevent further similar occurrences.

He says the President has asked that the investigation consider any broader issues with the Kiribati domestic maritime system.

Although a small group swam to Maiana and raised the alarm with locals, the accident was not notified to the authorities for some two days.

Captain Burfoot says the inquiry will not be looking to assign blame, but to help improve safety for the future.