20 Dec 2013

Maritime safety to lay charges over Solomon Islands ferry sinking

3:33 pm on 20 December 2013

Maritime safety officials in Solomon Islands are reportedly set to lay charges over the sinking of a ferry carrying more than three times its legal number of passengers.

All survived when the MV Francis Gerena sank off the coast of one of the Gela group of islands on its way from the capital Honiara to north Malaita on Wednesday.

Our Solomon Islands correspondent Dorothy Wickham says more than 300 people were on board the ship but it is just one of a number of overloaded vessels setting off without authorisation.

We're waiting for the marine department to actually use its powers and ensure that this one is used as an example. Because over the next few days as we speak there are more boats taking off and they're still overloaded so there needs to be some sort of action taken now to ensure that other boat owners take seriously the warnings of maritime.

Dorothy Wickham says one of the reasons the ship was overloaded is because its owner is standing for election and offered people free passage.