20 Aug 2009

Tonga PM thanks navies and police for Princess Ashika rescue effort

7:09 pm on 20 August 2009

Tonga's prime minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, has thanked the navies of New Zealand, Australia and Tonga for the search effort to locate the Princess Ashika ferry which sank two weeks ago.

The accident has left two people dead and 72 missing.

Dr Sevele says without the cooperation effort by the three navies, the vessel could not have been found.

He also thanked the police and the defence services for the long hours they put in.

It is not known if an attempt will be made to salvage the ship which is 110 metres under the surface, some 80 kilometres from Nuku'alofa.

Dr Sevele also thanked the Crown Prince, Tupouto'a Lavaka, who is Tonga's ambassador to Australia, for being present and lending a hand.

King George Tupou V left Tonga for an extended holiday shortly after the ferry accident.