29 Oct 2009

Crew member testifies in Tonga's ferry sinking probe

2:37 pm on 29 October 2009

A crew member on the Princess Ashika has told the Royal Commission of Inquiry investigating the ferry's sinking about the rust and holes he saw when the ship arrived in Tonga.

The Commission is trying to establish what caused the disaster which claimed more than 70 lives in August.

Yesterday the Commission heard from a Tongan Government marine engineer who took photos of massive holes on the ferry.

A journalist covering the trial, Titila Tuitupou says today a crew member, Manase Katoa has reinforced that evidence with his testimony about the condition of the vessel when it first arrived from Fiji.

"He said when he saw the Princess Ashika for the first time, he thought it was not worth to travel here in Tonga. He just look at some of the rust inside the vessel, the cargo, and outside, very rust, and some of the holes there."

Titila Tuitupou says Manase Katoa told the Commission he did some repairs on the vessel but this was not completed before the sinking.

She says he spoke with the manager of the Shipping Corporation about his concerns about the ferry.