Tonga Ferry Sinks: 93 Missing, 54 Survivors from Princess Ashika
On Wednesday, August 5, the Tongan ferry Princes Ashika capsized and sank between Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, and Ha'afeva, in the South Pacific Ocean.
As of Saturday, August 8, 93 people are missing and feared dead, most of whom may have been women and children. 54 people have been rescued and two bodies--a British man residing in New Zealand and a Polynesian woman--have been recovered, out of a total 149 people on the ferry.
According to Police Chief Inspector Sokopeti To'ia, authorities are still investigating who and how many people were onboard the ferry when it sank. Navy divers from Australia and New Zealand are assisting the search and recovery process.
Although water clarity was good, the sea bed where the ferry went down is uneven and up to 330 feet (100 meters) deep in places, making conditions difficult, To'ia said.
The Tongan government has received heat over the Tonga ferry disaster, with many Tongans accusing the government of neglect for allowing an over 30-year-old vessel to sail. Tongan Prime Mister Feleti Sevele maintained that the ship had been shown to be safe.
"It was tested, it passed, therefore it was able to get the sea worthiness certificate, plus the Marine insurance cover."