6 Feb 2018

Kiribati ferry owner under investigation

4:18 pm on 6 February 2018

Police in Kiribati have seized the passport of the owner of the ferry which sank killing more than 90 people in the country.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued.

Some of the seven survivors shortly after being rescued Photo: Facebook/ @RadioKiribati

The Butiraoi vanished after leaving Nonouti on 18 January, and seven survivors were found drifting in a dinghy a week later.

Newshub reported the police have also seized maintenance records for the vessel.

The owner of the Butiraoi, Kirennang Tokiteba, has been ordered to remain in the country while authorities investigate the disaster.

Mr Tokiteba said he accepts that as the ferry operator he's responsible, yet cannot understand why the captain sailed with passengers on board, which he says was against orders.

Mr Tokiteba showed Newshub documentation proving the vessel was seaworthy at the time of its sinking.

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This boat was found with the seven survivors on it. Photo: supplied

The documents also showed the vessel was not licensed to carry passengers.

The Butiraoi was also carrying 35 tonnes of coconuts, well in excess of its cargo limit.

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