2 May 2005

Missing Solomons ship crew to be asked to explain delay in activating locator

7:53 pm on 2 May 2005

The crew of an Australian fishing boat located at the weekend in Solomon Islands after going missing more than 3 weeks ago, has been taken to Honiara after being picked up by a freighter.

The Ability had not been heard from since April 13th.

A search began last week when five of the 11crew reached Malaita after leaving the Ability and rowing a small boat for five days.

An emergency locator beacon was activated at the weekend and a bulk carrier on its way to New Zealand, the MV Paolo, was diverted to pick up the crew, who are said to be healthy and safe.

The head of search and rescue in Solomon Islands, Jack Bana, says it's mystifying why it took so long for the emergency beacon to be set off.

"we will call them here to this centre, and have some sort of interview and investigate what's going on and why it took so long to find that beacon and actually activate it."