15 Jul 2010

New Zealand investigators say a lack of safety gear critical in Kiribati ferry disaster

6:44 pm on 15 July 2010

A report into the capsizing of a Kiribati ferry has found more than 30 people could have been saved if the vessel had adequate safety eqipment.

35 people died and 16 survived when the single outrigger passenger ferry Uean Te Raoi II capsized off Maiana Island in July last year.

A report by New Zealand's Transport Accident and Investigation Commission for the Kiribati government has found waves and wind caused the boat to became unstable.

Its also found the ferry was overloaded with cargo and people, and had been reconfigured so it was only suitable for sheltered waters.

But marine accident investigator, Captain Iain Hill, says all but two of the passengers were highly likely to have survived if the ferry had had an emergency beacon or flares.

"The EPIRB would have been picked up by the satellites and help could have got there a lot quicker. Also, if they'd carried a set of day and night flares for immediate use during the first night they could have used these to signal for help, they saw the rescue boat but they had no means of signalling for help. And also although they had quite a few lifejackets on board, they were difficult to get at."

Captain Iain Hill