2 Mar 2018

Kiribati ferry disaster: Crew drank alcohol before tragedy

7:22 am on 2 March 2018

Investigations into the Kiribati ferry disaster in January have found that the skipper and his crew had been drinking.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued Photo: Facebook/ @RadioKiribati

Kiribati's maritime director Ruoikabuti Tioon said he was still to finish his investigation into the Butiraoi sinking in which 80 people died.

Mr Tioon said after interviews with the survivors and with people at the ferry's departure point of Nonouti, it was believed the crew had consumed alcohol.

But he said it could not be determined that they were drunk.

Mr Tioon said the ferry ran aground as it was attempting to leave, after going into waters around Nonouti that locals knew to avoid, and the skipper was a local.

He said the skipper was not doing his job.

"He was aware that no passengers were allowed on board. He was fully aware, he knew, he saw that his vessel went aground twice.

"Too much copra loaded on his vessel - I think he was aware of that. The weather at that time was not good. It was rough weather," he said.

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