4 Sep 2003

Three dead, four missing in French Polynesia ship disaster

8:58 am on 4 September 2003

3 people are dead and four are missing after a French Polynesian ship with 21 people on board sank off Rimatara island.

The Tahiti Nui IV sent a distress signal in the middle of the night before it went down this morning shortly after being spotted by a rescue aircraft.

A French helicopter rescued 14 people and flew them to Rurutu which is about 100 kilometres away from the accident site.

Survivors were then flown to Tahiti.

Among the victims is the captain, Victor Lenoir.

The ship was carrying heavy construction material bound for Rimatara, when it encountered heavy seas.

No cause for the accident has been established but it is believed the cargo may have shifted to cause the ship to capsize.