30 Nov 2009

Tonga Ashika probe findings now due in March

1:39 pm on 30 November 2009

The Tongan Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the Princess Ashika ferry has declined to make any preliminary findings in a interim report filed five weeks into its investigations into the disaster.

The Ashika sank on the night of August the 5th while on route to Ha'apai from Nuku'alofa, claiming the lives of 74 people.

The inquiry has so far heard from a number of crew and maritime officials who have painted a picture of a vessel that was inappropriate for Tonga's needs, unseaworthy and riddled with corrosion while survey requirements were ignored.

In issuing its interim report, the Commission says it decided against making any preliminary findings, because to do so would be premature.

It says it wants to hear from many more witnesses and consider other evidence, including documentary, to enable it to compile a comprehensive and definitive report.

The Commission says it expects to produce that final report by the end of March next year.