The MP for the Kiribati island a missing ferry departed from says the tragedy has left the island of only 2,000 people devastated.
The vessel Butiraoi, which may have been carrying as many as 100 people, vanished after leaving Nonouti on January the 18th.
Seven survivors were found drifting in a dinghy on Sunday and an international search for other survivors is continuing, but chances are growing slimmer by the day.
The Nonouti MP, Sir Ieremia Tabai, says many of the missing are probably high school children heading to Tarawa for the term.
"It's a real sad day for those who lost their loved ones. I know from my village, I think two or three people that I personally know and live next to in my village, and they are on that boat that perished. People on Nonouti are affected in a very serious way."
Sir Ieremia Tabai says an independent inquiry needs be launched, as the ferry was clearly not seaworthy.