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By Jillian Hicks

SVUA, Fiji (Oct. 22, 2002 – Fiji Sun/PINA Nius Online)---Tension is high on Rabi Island following reports of the disappearance of another Banaban from an Asian fishing vessel, reportedly in Vanuatu waters.

Spokesman Pita Atauea, president of the northern constituency of the United General Party, said the islanders are so furious and hungry for revenge their only obstacle right now is "the distance that separates them."

"Relatives of these men are so angry that they are planning on taking revenge by coming into Suva and smashing up all Asian boats anchored at the wharf," Atauea said.

This is the second Banaban from Rabi Island to recently be reported missing while employed on Asian fishing vessels.

The first reportedly disappeared in Tuvalu waters last month.

In another incident, a Banaban was found dead in his cabin by fellow crew members, reportedly with marks on his body.

The Banabans are from the community resettled on Rabi in Fiji because of the phosphate mining damage to Banaba in Kiribati.

Atauea said the relatives find it hard to accept explanations by local agents for the Asian vessels that the missing Banabans "could have fallen overboard or committed suicide."

As far as they are concerned, the Banabans are more skilled than their Asian counterparts. They can look after themselves at sea, having grown up surrounded by the sea, they said.

The Banabans will be calling on the Fiji Government to do something, Mr Atauea said.

Fiji police have recently raised concern about the number of deaths on Asian boats. Another vessel arrived in Suva this week carrying a Chinese crewman said to have been electrocuted.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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