NZ High Commissioner lays wreath to mark 10 years since Princess Ashika sank killing 74 lives

    New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga Her Excellency Tiffany Babington and Warrant Officer Peter Hutton  laid a wreath this morning in Nuku’alofa to mark the 10th anniversary of the MV Princess Ashika tragedy.

    The doomed ferry sank on 5 August, resulting in the deaths of 74 passengers and crew.

    There were 54 survivors.

    The ship sank just before midnight. Eyewitnesses said it capsized in a few minutes after water started seeping into the lower decks.

    Neither the bodies nor the vessel could be recovered, although the searchers were able to locate them and took video footages and digital photographs.

    The dead passengers included all the women and children on board. Of the victims, 13 were aged under 10 and three were infants. The oldest victim, Fifita Taufo’ou, was 77.

    Some people were charged and jailed after the tragedy, including the captain of the vessel Makahokovalu Tuputupu, Acting Director of Marine and Ports Viliami Tu’ipulotu and John Jonesse the Managing Director  of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia Ltd, which owned the vessel.

    Seven years after the MV Princess Ashika sank, Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pohiva said there was still time to bring all those responsible to justice, but the government does not have the money to pursue the case.

    The Prime Minister said it was a criminal case and there was no time limit on when the government could proceed with legal action.

    A post by the New Zealand High Commission office in Tonga to its Facebook page this morning read:

    “Today marks the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Princess Ashika in which 74 people lost their lives. HE Tiffany Babington and Warrant Officer Peter Hutton presented a wreath this morning to commemorate those who had passed away. Rest in Peace.”


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