4 dead in boat tragedy

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BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

FOUR Ngella locals have died after their boat sank outside Vuturua village, southeast Ngella, on Wednesday afternoon after encountering bad weather.

Out of the 16 passengers, three males and a female lost their lives while the other 12 managed to swim ashore.

A sympathetic Acting Commissioner for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Juanita Matanga strongly reminds that people must learn to take ownership of being responsible with their lives in an environment dominated by vast sea space such as Solomon Islands.

“Anyone planning to travel out to sea must properly plan their trip, inform family members or people around them where they are going and what time they should be expected to arrive.

“Make sure OBMs are sea worthy and serviced properly because these areas contribute to the problems faced at sea by OBMs too. Another reminder, make sure the boat driver is a reliable one too having experience to travel to destinations and not a drunken one. Do not overload OBMs.

“Take safety measures for instance, life jackets, food, extra fuel, paddles, flares or torches or anything one thinks that will be able to support them when being at sea. It is important to have all such because when the need comes to use them they will be available,” said the RSIPF Acting Commissioner contributing with tips for sea safety measures.

RSIPF’s Acting Commissioner strongly urges citizens of the nation to contact any nearby responsible services that will assist them in whatever situation that might occur when travelling at sea.

“Always check on weather updates through the media or call the Met Service on #27658 or toll free line #933.

“MRCC’s contacts are #21609 and 27685 or toll free line # 977. Or contact any nearby police service or our Honiara Communication Centre on #999 or #2366.

“All these contacts are to help everyone so that when encountering such situations, these are the contacts to seek help from,” assists the RSIPF Acting Commissioner.

“If you start your trip and realise that the weather is starting to change then seek shelter at places that would be safe first before continuing on the journey when it is fine again.

“Safety at sea is the responsibility of the one or whoever is heading out in it to travel from one place to another.”

The OBM the victims used according to a report was powered by a 40 HP and

According to a report, the 40hp OBM should have only taken six passengers maximum. Unfortunately, the OBM carried 16 passengers as well as goods on board being overloaded too.

It is understood that the bodies of the deceased have already been taken back to their respective home village at Burungia on Thursday.

In a similar incident, during August 15 this week, two wives of RSIPF police officers residing at Yandina, Russell Islands, were also in an OBM unfortunately experiencing engine problem causing them to float between Russell and Guadalcanal islands. They had started their trip from Yandina planning to head to Honiara.

Fortunately, RSIPF received the report and sent out one of their stabi-crafts that found them around 2pm between Guadalcanal and Russell islands taking them back to Russell from there.

The deceased in Wednesday’s incident included a father, two sons and a daughter-in-law.

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