Mailangi’s body still in Late, bad weather hinders efforts to return it to Neiafu

A helicopter was sent this morning to the island of Late in an attempt to bring the body of missing Mailangi Vea to Neiafu.

The dead body of the 42-year-old was retrieved from the water yesterday but attempts to transport it to Neiafu were unsuccessful because of the bad weather, Vavaʻu Police Superintended Netane Falakiseni told Kaniva News this morning.

The rescue operation encountered great difficulties and at one stage they were forced to call off to avoid any further tragedy, Falakiseni said.

Four lifebuoys attached to a 150-metre rope were thrown into the sea to help recover the body but they were all sucked into the blowholes at where the victim was swept away, Falakiseni said, adding that this showed how rough the sea was.

“Mr. Vea was hired by Digicel Tonga to bring back 8 of their people to Neiafu who were working at Late Island for approximately 3 weeks”, a statement said.

The Fungamisi man hasn’t been seen since he was swept away by waves when the dinghy he was in capsized at approximately 2:30 pm July 2, 2016, it said.

A Police patrol boat and another boat belong to the Beluga, a local company assisted in the recovery operation.

Falakiseni said they expected the Digicel’s helicopter can land in the island so that the body could be transported to Neiafu today.

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