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PM sends condolence message to Kiribati

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Update: 12:43PM AS Kiribati mourns the death of at least 80 people after the tragic sinking of the MV Butiraoi, Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has extended the condolences of all Fijians to those who have lost their loved ones.

Mr Bainimarama says it was a particular tragedy for a nation the size of Kiribati, and the thoughts and prayers of every Fijian are with them at this time.

"As you know Fiji was able to render whatever assistance we could with the rescue effort, and we also stand ready to provide whatever assistance you may need with the investigation into the sinking," he said.

"This chord has struck a deep chord with Fijians and other Pacific Islanders. I extend to you the solidarity and friendship of the Fijian people, and our assurance that you can always rely on Fiji- especially in times of need."

According to a report by Radio New Zealand today, an international search operation was conducted after MV Butiraoi vanished after leaving Nonouti on January 18.

Seven survivors were found drifting in a dinghy a week after MV Butiraoi's disppearnace.

"Just before the boat broke up they heard a loud noise or crack and they tried to inform the captain to return to land. But they said that the captain just didn't want to hear them," said Radio Kiribati editor Rikimati Naare in a RNZ report.

"Instead of going back to the island, he started to speed up the boat and that's when the third noise or crack happened and it just broke in half from the middle."

The passengers had  survived off a single bag of coconuts and when that ran out, they tried to desalinate sea water in a plastic container.

BBC reports that the remaining passengers are now all thought to have died. A preliminary passenger document lists 14 children, 16 students and 58 adults.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand and the New Zealand Airforce assisted in the rescue coordination centre in Nadi, Fiji, in searching for MV Butiraoi that was overdue to Betio, Tarawa.


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