11 Jul 2014

Two confirmed dead as Vanuatu ferry sinks

3:23 pm on 11 July 2014

A ferry has capsized and sunk in Vanuatu, with disaster officials confirming two people have died and a handful are still missing.

The MCY vessel had set out from Malekula, headed towards the capital, Port Vila, and sent out a distress call in the early hours of this morning.

It capsized a few kilometres north of Efate island.

The Director of the National Disaster Management Office, Shadrach Welegtabit, says police divers are in the water and other rescue personnel in boats are searching for survivors.

Earlier reports say the vessel was carrying 41 passengers and crew.

Shadrach Welegtabit says they have rescued more than 37 people.

"They managed to rescue 37 passengers plus crew, and then we are still going to confirm the number of missing people. We have two confirmed dead and a few more are still missing."

Shadrach Welegtabit says the survivors have been taken by barge to the shore where ambulance crews attended to them.