16 Jul 2010

Report on Kiribati ferry capsize finds lives could have been saved

6:53 am on 16 July 2010

A report into a capsized Kiribati passenger ferry has found international agreements could have saved the lives of many of those on board.

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 all but two of the passengers are likely to have survived if the boat had adequate safety gear.

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

But accident investigator Captain Iain Hill says if Kiribati had entered into international agreements, more immediate help would have been available

"They got a search together, and they had boats out looking for it, the Republic of Kiribati own patrol boat was out there looking for the boat for several days. But perhaps if they had agreements or memorandums of understanding with other countries then help would have been more readily available."

Captain Hill says the report recommends more resources for the Kiribati Marine Division.