12 Aug 2009

Dive team in Tonga hope rope could lead to sunken ferry

8:50 am on 12 August 2009

Divers are resuming their search for the sunken Tongan ferry, and are hopeful a rope spotted yesterday could lead them to the wreckage on the sea floor.

Authorities believe 93 bodies remain trapped in the Princess Ashika which went down last Wednesday night.

The head of the New Zealand navy dive team Lieutenant Commander Andrew McMillan says today's search will focus on a rope seen in the area yesterday.

"It is a rope of the type that was used on the vessel, it's attached to something on the bottom. I can't confirm what that is on the bottom, there was two forklifts onboard the vessel at the time, they could have gotten tangled on the rope and they could be sitting on the bottom. We need to approach this in a cautious manner, it is a very good indicator but it is unconfirmed at this point."

Andrew McMillan says the ferry could be located 108 to 110 metres deep in the sea, and the maximum depth divers can reach is 60 metres.