21 Feb 2011

Pictures show evidence of corrosion in Tonga's Ashika trial

2:39 pm on 21 February 2011

A former marine engineer, Mosese Fakatou, has continued giving evidence at the start of the second week of the Ashika trial in Tonga

The Princess Ashika sank in August in 2009, claiming 74 lives.

Mr Fakatou, who inspected Tonga's inter-island ferry just hours before it sank, showed the court the photos he took of the Ashika during its last few days.

Our reporter Falemaka Fihaki says the photos showed doors and entrances on the Ashika unable to fully close due to corrosion and the absence of rubber seals.

"One door had a massive hole above it and had an extension cord running through it. According to Mosese this poses a threat to the crew as sharp edges around the hole can cut through the chord and could cause electrocutions. Part of the wall of the hull appears to bend inwards and Mosese says this could have been caused by a strong wave. On the cargo hold the court was shown pictures of its deck where the metal from the original deck has been patched and on top of that is another patch. On one side of the cargo hole a welding machine has been welded on to the wall and Mosese told the court it was there because it was frequently used around the ship to carry out repair work. The trial is expected to continue for four weeks."