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Kiribati boat disaster sombre reminder of 2009 tragedy

01 February 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell -

Hopes are fading as the search continues for passengers on the inter-island ferry MV Butaraoi that failed to reach Betio 13 days ago.

Hamilton Kiribati Council spokesman Tibwere Tauman says this tragedy is a sombre reminder of 2009, when 33 of 55 passengers perished at sea between Tarawa and Maniana.

Tauman is disappointed proper procedures were not followed to ensure the safety of passengers.

"The first time they said there were about 30 people but then those people that were found said there were more than that," he says. "We still can't confirm that because they don't have a manifest or a list of those people who board that ship."

Seven Kiribati survivors were located by search and rescue authorities. Photo/ NZDF.

US Coastguards and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority aircraft have joined the search for Kiribati passengers lost at sea.

Nonouti Island Council has confirmed 88 passengers were on the ferry when it left Nonouti on January 18.

The list released by the council shows that 65 adults, 13 high school students and 10 primary-aged children were onboard.

Seven survivors spotted by the Airforce Orion were transported back to the mainland yesterday.

Defence Force spokesman Air Commodore Darryn Webb says they have had to revise the coordinates for the operation.

"Some of the information that the survivors were able to pass on means that we can refine the search area down a bit," he says. "If we can isolate that search area down to a small location, the chances of finding them go up."

The search for the sunken boat continues.

Tags: Kiribati,