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Ferry Passengers Rescued

Ferry Passengers Rescued
A passenger disembarks the MV Spirit of Altruism after it ran aground yesterday.
April 03
10:30 2018

More than 170 people are safe after being rescued from an inter-island ferry stuck on Cakaudavui Reef, off Dawasamu, Tailevu, yesterday afternoon.

The 176 people were travelling on the MV Spirit of Altruism from Natovi jetty to Nabouwalu early yesterday when it ran aground on the reef.

Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport David Kolita­gane quoted the passenger numbers from figures given by the Maritime and Safety Authority.

He confirmed that the passengers were all safe and no one was injured.

However, vessel owner Patterson Shipping said there were 132 passengers on board the vessel.

Mr Kolitagane said the 176 did not include the crew on board.

He said before sun down passengers were transferred from MV Spirit of Altruism to fibreglass boats and on to the Spirit of Har­mony, wearing life jackets.

Passengers were transferred on to a fibre glass boat before they were transported to MV Harmony.

Passengers were transferred on to a fibre glass boat before they were transported to MV Spirit of Harmony.

Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji’s Cap­tain Philip Hill said four fibreglass boats were used for the passengers to be trans­ferred and as of 7pm yesterday 30 passen­gers were left to board the second vessel.

He said the passengers would arrive at the Natovi Jetty and transport had already been arranged by Patterson Shipping.

He said a team had already departed Suva to conduct the salvaging of MV Spirit of Altruism.

He added that the safety of the passengers was paramount.

Some passengers on their way to the MV Spirit of Harmony yesterday afternoon.

Some passengers on their way to the MV Spirit of Harmony yesterday afternoon.

Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited media liaison officer David Pat­terson confirmed that the ship left Natovi Jetty around 7.30am heading towards Na­bouwalu Jetty with passengers and trucks on board.

“The ship experienced engine problems and as a result was against the reef,” Mr Patterson said.

“However, it was in a stable condition.

“The situation was normalised and two sister ships (Spirit of Love and Spirit of Harmony) were sent out to assist and be on standby.

He said the passengers were taken back to Natovi Jetty.

Mr Patterson said the passengers were safe and being cared for by crew members.

He added that Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji and other authorities were informed about the incident.

Mr Patterson reported that 132 passengers were onboard and were given life jackets when the incident happened.

MSAF officials confirmed that by 7.30pm yesterday all passengers had been taken off the MV Spirit of Altruism.

When this edition went to press last night the rescued passengers had yet to reach Na­tovi Jetty, where transportation had been arranged, waiting to take them to their re­spective homes.

The MV Spirit of Harmony arrives at the Natovi jetty. Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu

The MV Spirit of Harmony arrives at the Natovi jetty. Photo: Losirene Lacanivalu

 

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

  • 7.30am – MV Spirit of Altruism left Natovi jetty with 176 passen­gers for Nabouwalu Jetty;
  • 8.30am – The ship encountered engine problems;
  • 9am – The ship got stuck on Cakaudavui Reef.
  • 11.30am – Two sister ships of Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Limited, Spirit of Love and Spirit of Harmony sent out to stand by near the ship.
  • Passengers advised to wear life jackets.
  • 4pm – Three fibreglass boats sent as part of the rescue opera­tion started transferring passen­gers across to the Spirit of Har­mony which was waiting nearby. This lasted more than two hours.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: losirene.lacanivalu@fijisun.com.fj

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