28 May 2012

Dozens rescued after freighter sinks

10:16 am on 28 May 2012

All 49 people who were on board an inter-island freighter that sank off southeastern Solomon Islands have been rescued and appear to be well.

The Solfish 001 failed to arrive in Lata in Temotu Province as scheduled on Wednesday.

Four aircraft including an Australian Air Force Orion and several ships began searching for the ship on Saturday.

Wreckage believed to be from the freighter was spotted about 60 nautical miles from Santa Cruz and five life rafts were found later to the north.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre acting director Brian Aonima says the freighter Micronesia Pride has since taken the passengers and crew to KiraKira on Makira Island.

Mr Aonima says international co-operation was behind the successful search, and thanked the Australian Government, the French Navy, the Solomon Islands RAMSI force and the Solomon Islands police.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesperson said all those on the vessel were from the Solomon Islands and included women and children.