5 Feb 2010

Tonga yet to replace ferry six months on from Ashika sinking

11:53 am on 5 February 2010

Efforts to find a replacement inter island ferry for Tonga are still ongoing six months after the Princess Ashika disaster.

The Ashika sank on August 5th with the loss of 74 lives.

An inquiry into the causes of the sinking resumes next week in Nuku'alofa.

The New Zealand government's aid agency, NZAID, says it has been working closely with the Tongan government to find an interim ferry.

However after an initial tender phase, no suitable vessels have been found and the search continues.

Meanwhile Tonga's only remaining ferry after the Ashika sinking was declared unsafe last month.

A New Zealand marine surveyor said the 25-year old MV Pulupaki was unseaworthy and Tonga's Ministry of Transport detained it.