22 Jul 2005

Solomons marine officials probe ferry sinking after rescuers save 60 passengers

1:36 pm on 22 July 2005

Marine authorities in Solomon Islands are investigating how a passenger ferry sank on its way to the capital, Honiara.

All 60 passengers and the crew of the MV Liofai are safe and sound after the vessel sank 16 kilometres from West Marou Bay off Makira.

Two banana boats took the passengers to shore before the ship went down.

The crew took to liferafts and another vessel, the MV Kaona, picked them up late last night.

The senior marine officer at the search and rescue unit, Brian Aonima, is preparing a report.

"We will be conducting the enquiry with the crews and the captain into how the incident occurred. It depends on the report and the submissions that we will make to the board of enquiries, to conduct the enquiry."

Sources say police will be looking at possible breaches of maritime law by the ship's master and crew.