22 Aug 2009

Tonga Police say Princess Ashika recovery could cost millions

8:21 am on 22 August 2009

The police in Tonga have indicated it could be unlikely a salvage operation will be launched to recover either the Princess Ashika, or the bodies it's thought to contain.

It's been 16-days since the ferry sinking that claimed up to 74-lives.

The latest figures from the police are that 72-people remain unaccounted for.

They officially ended their searches from the air and sea at eleven o'clock this morning.

The police commander, Chris Kelley, says there are a number of factors to consider as to what happens next.

"If we did engage a private organisation it would take weeks, if not months, with an associated high cost I suppose, millions of dollars in a potential recovery of human remains. There's no guarantee of course that this could be carried out completeness for all the families involved and recover all their loved ones."

Chris Kelley says he's been advised a decision from the Tongan government is due soon.

The New Zealand Navy has now left Tonga, and is heading back to New Zealand.