25 Jun 2010

Two die in Tonga of tank fumes

3:31 pm on 25 June 2010

Two men who died on board a fuel tanker in Tonga are believed to have been overcome by poisonous fumes while cleaning empty tanks.

Matangi Tonga reports that the MV Punalei was berthed at Pangai in Ha'apai when Takilesi Uata and Ula Tu'ionetoa died.

The vessel is owned by Uata Shipping.

Sergeant Tonga Onevai of the Tonga Navy says when he saw the men in the tank they looked as if they had been dead for quite some time and the fumes coming out of the tank were very strong.

He says the usual practice when fuel tanks are empty is to open them up for a while before anyone goes inside.

But he says it seems the men went in without protective gear while the fumes were still strong.