9 Mar 2011

Tonga trial hears of Ashika sinking

2:38 pm on 9 March 2011

A former crew member of the Princess Ashika has told a trial in Tonga he was woken on the night the vessel sank to help bail out water which was six inches deep in two of the cabins.

Metui Satini is the latest crew member to give evidence at the manslaughter trial of the managing director of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia, the skipper, his first mate and the acting director of marine.

74 people died in the tragedy in August 2009.

Falemaka Fihaki reports from Nuku'alofa.

"Mr Satini told the court he'd repeatedly told first mate, Semisi Pomale, that water was coming into the crew cabin and cargo deck, before Mr Pomale ordered him to pump the water out. The Ashika had tilted to the right side during this time but pumping corrected this. However he says about a half hour later it began tilting to the left and continued taking in water. He says Mr Pomale ordered him to check if the bilge pump in the engine room was operating. He says he found water in the engine room and the pump not working. Mr Satini says he had tried to get buckets to bail water but by that stage the water reached to his waist."