Solomons MP says poor maritime rescue coordination costing lives

7:34 pm on 6 April 2020

A Solomon Islands MP has hit out at the country's maritime rescue coordination systems saying its inefficiency costing people's lives.

Solomon Islanders observe the MV Taimareho

Solomon Islanders observe the MV Taimareho Photo: Police Media

Early on Friday morning the MV Taimareho was caught out by Cyclone Harold while attempting an inter-island crossing with over 700 people and cargo onboard.

27 people were washed overboard and as of Monday morning six bodies had been recovered.

But the MP for West Are Are, whose constituents made up the bulk of the passenger roll on the trip, says there was so much red tape involved that it took 24 hours to get a search underway.

Speaking on the floor of parliament, John Maneniaru said by the time boats and aircraft were dispatched it was to recover bodies not save lives.

"I am again going back to repeat this about our search and rescue, we must do something about it now. Before we come across the next incident, do something about it now," he said.

"Give them the right equipment, give them the resources they need now so that they can rescue lives. At the moment they are not doing that."

Earlier the police announced the bodies of three females and two males were recovered near Maka during Sunday's search effort.

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Photo: 123 RF

The commander of the police operation centre, Richard Menapi, said three of the bodies had been identified and a doctor and police forensics team were being dispatched to help identify the remaining two.

"On behalf of the Acting Commissioner of Police, I would like to thank everyone who have been involved in the search for the missing 27 people so far as we try as much as possible to find the bodies so their grieving relatives can give them a proper burial," said Mr Menapi.

There are still 21 people missing.

The search effort was continuing.

An investigation was being launched into the incident.

One of the main questions being asked is why the captain and crew did not abide by maritime safety warnings advising ships not to take to sea because Cyclone Harold was in the area.