WELLINGTON, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Search and Rescue said that there is still
hope of finding survivors from a ferry that rolled and sank near the Tongan
capital, Nuku'alofa, Wednesday night, according to local media Thursday.
Radio & TV Tonga said two bodies had been found from the ferry Princess
Ashika, and one was of a British man carrying a New Zealand driver's license,
The New Zealand Herald reported.
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) was liaising with
British authorities about repatriating the man's body.
Authorities said that 53 people have been rescued and 33 others are still
The sinking was doubly tragic for the Pacific region as it followed last
month's ferry sinking in Kiribati, which left 33 people dead, New Zealand
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said.
Mike Roberts from Search and Rescue said that search conditions were good
and the team still hoped to find survivors. He said the search would continue
until sunset Thursday and resume on Friday at first light.
The ferry was heading from Nuku'alofa to Ha'afeva in the Nomuka Islands
group and is believed to have sunk about 86 km north-east of Nuku'alofa. It was
used as the main form of transport to get from the main island, Tongatapu, to
the two main outer islands, Vavau and Haapai.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion and three vessels are involved in the
search, and Zac Pendergast from Defence Force Operations said that another Orion
is on standby in Tonga to replace the one currently searching.