AN audit officer from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities is in Bua to conduct an internal investigation into a reported drowning case of a crew member on a government vessel.
When contacted for a comment on the incident yesterday, Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities permanent secretary Commander Francis Kean said an audit officer from the ministry had been dispatched to Bua to conduct internal investigations. Cdr Kean said he would not comment further until investigations were completed.
The investigation follows the death of a 22-year-old crew member of a government vessel who reportedly drowned in Galoa waters, Bua on Friday morning.
Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro confirmed the incident happened on board the Dredonu 1 on Friday morning.
Ms Naisoro said the victim allegedly jumped off the ship for a swim after a drinking party.
"A few minutes later some of the crew members noticed the victim waving for help about 50 metres away from the ship," Ms Naisoro said. "While they managed to get him on board, attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
"He was rushed to the Lekutu Health Centre where he was pronounced dead on arrival."
She said a post-mortem examination would be conducted soon to determine the cause of death.
"The drowning death toll stands at 20 compared with 19 for the same period last year.
"As investigations continue into this latest incident we are pleading with members of the public not to partake in water activities if under the influence of alcohol. These two are a dangerous mix and can seriously affect one's judgment and ability to swim or control themselves while indulging in any water-related activities."
Ms Naisoro sounded a word of caution while saying they anticipated a lot of merrymaking during this long weekend.
"However let's not lose track of the importance of keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe."