17 Sep 2009

Tonga women's centre: letter confirms suspicions about ferry

7:10 am on 17 September 2009

The executive director of the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children says a letter published in newspapers claiming the sunken ferry Princess Ashika was unseaworthy confirms widely-held suspicions.

The letter was sent after the ferry sank last month from the head of the Port Authority to its chairman, the Prime Minister.

It outlines welding repairs conducted at night and warns of bloodshed if the victims' families learn the truth about the boat's condition.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry is underway into the accident, in which 74 people lost their lives.

Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the letter's publication puts even more focus on the commission's findings.

"It's very important that the commission in light of all of this, that they are very careful in how they bring out the report to the public, because in a nutshell this will drive the nation's response. So they either bring it out as it is, tell it as it is, bring out the truth and if they try to hide it then I'm afraid the reaction by the majority of the public will not be a very good one."