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Boat tragedy

Boy found dead, 7 rescued and others remain missing as search continues


THE dead body of a boy was found washed ashore close to Waimae village near Marau, east Guadalcanal, after a boat carrying 23 people reportedly sank on Wednesday morning, having journeyed from West Are’are in south Malaita to Marau.

Seven have been reportedly rescued and are receiving medical attention at Marau clinic as search continues for the remaining 13 people.

Another boat was reported to have landed safely at Longu Kaoka, about 10 miles from Marau.

Reports reaching Island Sun say 23 people, mostly youths from Uhu and Harumou, travelled to Marau for a youth fundraising when they sank between 10-11am Wednesday morning.

Yesterday, Marau Police with the help of people in Marau launched a search and rescue mission and managed to rescue six females. The seventh, a teenage boy, was found alive floating using a fuel tank.

Police Maritime unit when reached yesterday confirmed receiving reports that a person believed to be one of the 23 was picked up near Marau.

But, Police Maritime Director Luke Vaikawi said the current state and condition of the victim rescued remains unclear.

The Police Maritime Unit sent Patrol Boat Lata in an effort to locate and rescue the 23 people.

One of the survivors, through social media, relayed that strong currents carried the two boats in different directions and unfortunately sank the one they were travelling in. The survivor adds that he knew nothing of the other 22 after the boat sank.

The 23 people loaded with luggage were said to be travelling in a blue Ray-boat double powered by 15 and 25 horsepower engines.

Mr Vaikawi said Patrol boat Lata will be again deployed in the early hours to resume search today.

“We can send the patrol boat now but it could be a difficulty searching at night unless the missing people have torch or light to signal their location,” he said.

He adds they have deployed a police stabi craft to assist Patrol boat Lata in the search and rescue effort.

When asked on whether the police had plans to use the chopper for the search, the Director said it depends on a request by the Solomon Islands Search and Rescue Unit.

He said they will have to work alongside RAMSI for the aerial search.

Ridol Bob from the Solomon Islands Search and Rescue said they are also looking on the possibility to send a chopper.

Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) CEO, Benjamin Afuga has relayed calls from relatives of the 23 people who call on people from Ulawa, Ugi, West Makira, South Malaita, North East Guadalcanal and nearby islands to look out for a blue Ray boat with missing people.

Meanwhile, Mr Vaikawi said the load of 23 people added by heavy luggage is not a good decision for people travelling by sea in such journey and weather.

The police said people must always take extra precautions when travelling in open seas, it could be unpredictable.

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