NEWS

Sea Mystery: What Happened On Tiro II? Family Seeks Answers

A restless older sister, Salote Raluve, waits anxiously for answers about her younger brother’s mysterious disappearance at sea.
25 May 2021 14:52
Sea Mystery: What Happened On Tiro II? Family Seeks Answers
Salote Raluve (second from left), the sister of missing seaman Qiritivabea Cagilabakomeli (INSET), is consoled by family members Tima Cakacaka (left) and Kali Vakatawa at their home in Cunningham on May 24, 2021. Photo: Leon Lord

A restless older sister, Salote Raluve, waits anxiously for answers about her younger brother’s mysterious disappearance at sea.

Six days after being notified of the mishap on board fishing vessel Tiro II that led to Qiritivabea Cagilabakomeli’s disappearance at sea, Ms Raluve is seeking answers as to what had really transpired on the day her younger brother went missing.

Mr Cagilabakomeli, 42, was part of the eight-member crew – five Fijians and three foreign nationals – on a fishing trip onboard FV Tiro II in the Western part of Fiji.

While three have since been found, Mr Cagilabakomeli and four others remain missing at sea.

The Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre was informed of an incident onboard the vessel, on the morning of Wednesday May 19, 2021.

It is still unclear how the vessel – which has since sunk – and its crew members came to go overboard.

Police have already questioned three survivors and are attempting to piece together the hours before the men went missing.

Police Spokesperson Savaira Tabua said as of yesterday afternoon, statements from the three survivors had been gathered and matched.

Without revealing more details of the investigation, Ms Tabua said all three men have been questioned and released by Police as investigations continue.

The Fiji Sun reached out to two of the men that were questioned by Police yesterday however the duo wished not to comment as investigation processes continue.

RFMF Naval Division Maritime Commander, Timoci Natuva said: “RFNS Savenaca while combing through the waters yesterday had nil sightings of the crew members. Going into seven days since they allegedly jumped overboard, chances of finding them are slim.”

QIRITIVABEA’S FAMILY  RESTLESS

An emotional Ms Raluve said her family has had sleepless nights thinking of what had really happened to her brother at sea.

“There are so many stories and speculations that we have heard about what had happened, but they are only speculations, we hope investigations would tell us what had really happened on board.”

Mr Cagilabakomeli left their Cunningham Stage 1 home on Saturday, May 8 for the trip.

“It was the first time for my brother to work on the fishing vessel, he was called by the company that morning and they had wanted him because of crew shortage,” she said.

“He had just returned home from a trip with Solander (fishing company) on Thursday, May 6 and he was not supposed to go out to sea again for two weeks.

“The crew members of the ship that he went with, came to pick him up from here on Saturday morning so that they would go together.”

She said her brother was a loving man who always put family first.

“He loved his work. He was in the industry for more than 20 years and he spent most of his time out at sea rather than at home.

“Sometime when he came home from a trip the fish that he brought back would be given to anyone he met. He had a loving nature.”

She said the family will only be at peace when their questions were answered. “My brother had bigger plans for life, even at his age he was adamant of completing his education to become a boat captain.

“He had business plans with our older brothers to start off in the village and he was a man full of vision and plans.”

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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