8 Sep 2010

Tonga Government offers cash settlements for families of Ashika victims

3:35 pm on 8 September 2010

Some families of victims in Tonga's Princess Ashika ferry disaster are reported to have accepted cash settlements from the Government on the condition they drop legal suits they have brought against the state.

The government owned vessel, which sank in August last year with 74 people losing their lives, was deemed unseaworthy by a commission of inquiry.

The inquiry said the tragedy was easily preventable and blamed it on the lack of due diligence and the failures by those in authority to act.

Our correspondent, Mateni Tapueluelu, says some families have accepted the offer of 80 thousand pa'anga, or just over 40 thousand US dollars, but others have turned it down.

"They have indicated that they would go the full scale and claim, obviously, a larger amount from the Government. And I believe that would have made a very sticky point for the Government, trying to divide between the victims that would accept their offer and those that would not. That would mean that the Government would still have to be taken to court."