15 Dec 2009

Ashika inquiry hears of trapped passengers

10:30 pm on 15 December 2009

A witness has told an inquiry into the Princess Ashika ferry sinking in Tonga that trapped passengers were piled on top of each other trying to save themselves.

Uokalani Tau'ataina was a steward on the ship and has given the Royal Commission a vivid account of the 5 August sinking which killed 74 people.

Tonga correspondent Pesi Fonua says the witness described the horror of seeing women and children frantically trying to escape from the ship's cabin as the vessel was going down.

Mr Fonua told Checkpoint says the steward went down with the ship but managed to swim to the surface.