18 Aug 2009

Authorities in Tonga reduce number of victims thought lost in ferry tragedy

11:52 am on 18 August 2009

Tonga's Police Commander, Chris Kelley, says the number of people presumed missing in the Princess Ashika ferry disaster has been reduced to 73 from 93.

Mr Kelley says they now believe that 129 people were on board the vessel when it sank two weeks ago.

54 were rescued and two bodies have been recovered.

Mr Kelley says the decrease in the numbers comes after detailed checking, confirmation with relatives, establishing correct identities with manifest records and statements from survivors.

But he says police cannot discount the possibility that other unknown people were onboard.

Meanwhile the remote underwater vehicle used by the navy diving team has this morning (tuesday) formally identified the wreck of the Princess Ashika.

Mr Kelley says the ROV made the confirmation by viewing the name plate.

Pictures of the wreck are set to be made public by Thursday.