23 Dec 2013

Passengers on ill-fated ship in Solomons say crewmen were drunk

10:16 am on 23 December 2013

In Solomon Islands, some of the survivors of the ill-fated MV Francis Gerena have revealed most of the crewmen on board the vessel were drunk prior to the ship's departure from Honiara.

The vessel, which was carrying passengers and cargo way beyond its loading capacity, sunk last week in Gela, Central Islands province whilst on a routine trip to North Malaita.

No one was killed in the tragedy.

The Solomon Star paper says according to passengers spoken to, most of the crewmen started drinking prior to their departure from Honiara.

One of the passengers said some of the crewmen continued drinking onto Gela and Malaita.

One of the crew members who conceded that some of them had been drinking said that the two water pumps in the engine room had malfunctioned, and therefore it was difficult to bail out water from under the vessel.

He added that as soon they got down to the engine room, it was already covered in water, and they then advised the passengers to prepare as the vessel was going down.

The police investigation into the incident is continuing.

Meanwhile, our correspondent says one of the reasons the boat was so overloaded was because its owner allowed free passage.