22 Jul 2005

Solomons ferry captain wasn't given permission to sail

6:06 pm on 22 July 2005

The captain of a passenger ferry that sank in Solomon Islands wasn't allowed to put to sea, authorities there say.

The 60 passengers and crew of the MV Liofai were rescued yesterday, but valuable cargo is said to have been lost.

Our correspondent in Honiara, Dorothy Wickham says authorities have recently been trying to prevent overloaded vessels from sailing.

"Maritime division has for the last six months been working with RAMSI and the police to crack down on overloading of vessels, ensuring that vessels carry safety gear, and just following rules that should apply for protecting passengers."

Ms Wickham says much of the Solomons' merchant fleet is ageing and in need of repair.