8 Feb 2010

Report into last July's boating accident in Kiribati due out soon

6:24 am on 8 February 2010

A report into the loss of more than thirty lives from a boating accident in Kiribati last July is due out soon.

A double-hulled canoe carrying 55 passengers from the capital of Kiribati to the outer island of Maiana-- 60 kilometers to the south -- capsized in rough weather seven months ago.

The Commander of the Police Maritime service, John Mote, says while the police can only enforce the law, he welcomes any steps from the government to improve maritime safety in the region where so many people depend on the sea for their livelihood.

He says many people are complacent and don't carry basic safety equipment.

"There are so many of these vessels that they have the sea worthy certificates saying that they are sea worthy, they are allowed to carry fifty passengers, and they should have maybe sixty life jackets, but when we open the box, the box was empty."

Mr Mote says the current Maritime Act only applies to boats longer than seven meters and many smaller craft regularly get into trouble at sea.