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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Jan. 23) — Due to the boat accident that resulted in the death of a Taiwanese couple last week, President Tommy Remengesau is seeking heavy fines and penalties against tour operators who do not comply with marine safety rules and regulations.

The president said the incident is "tragic and unfortunate and should have never happened in the first place."

Remengesau said when the accident occurred on Jan. 17 there was a small craft advisory warning boaters to be cautious when traveling between Peleliu, Angaur, Kayangel, Ollei and/or outside the reefs.

"There was an advisory — nobody should have been near the reef with waves of that magnitude," Remengesau said.

He said heavier fines will force tour operators to follow strictly marine safety regulations.

On Jan. 14 and as of press time, the small craft advisory flags had been raised because water conditions outside the reef were "fairly rough" following heavy rains and strong winds.

The fatalities were identified as Kan Chia Tse and Tu Yu Fang.

The Ministry of Health said 16 other tourists were immediately discharged from the hospital after treatment due to minor injuries.

Division of Marine Law Enforcement officer Thomas Tutii said the KB Tour boat was headed to the Rock Island when it capsized at the Skoki Channel.

January 23, 2006

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