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54 survivors known after Wednesday ferry sinking

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, August 9, 2009) – THE number of missing from the MV Princess Ashika ferry continues to grow, with 93 persons unaccounted for today, and only two bodies recovered. ANZ navy divers returned to the location today in a continuing search for the sunken vessel on a hilly seabed at depths of up to 100 meters in Ha'apai waters.

On Day 4 of Operation Ashika, 82 hours after the MV Princess Ashika sank around midnight on Wednesday, the police have confirmed the names of 149 persons on board.

"It is quite possible it will be more," said Tonga Police Commander Chris Kelley this morning. "The figures are changing by the hour."

There are 54 known survivors, and two dead. (The names of the survivors are listed at the end of this article).

Today, 93 persons remain unaccounted for, and these include 37 males, 33 females, 10 children, and 13 of unknown gender.

Commander Kelley said the process of reconciling the passenger figures was a difficult one because of the need for information from family, relatives and friends of persons on board the sunken vessel.

"It is important to ensure only accurate identity information is realeased," he stressed.

Police and government support teams are continuing their visits to families throughout Tonga "to try and confirm the exact number and identity of people on board."

The commander said that inquiries were also underway in an effort to identify foreign nationals on board.

"We know that there was one Japanese crew member, with two French and two German passengers missing - four people who were working in Tonga, and there may be more."

There are also two police officers missing: a Tongan police officer who was returning to Vava'u after attending a court case in Tongatapu, and a Niuean Police officer, a woman, who was on holiday in Tonga.

The body of one British national has been recovered.

The body of an unidentified Tongan woman aged about 25-35 has also been recovered, and police are trying to match her to descriptions given by relatives.

"We thought we had found relatives to view the body but they have confirmed that it is not their relative," said the Commander. "We will release a detailed description tomorrow."

"We have recovered only two bodies which is unusual in the circumstances," he said.

"As time goes on the chances of finding more survivors is less, but it doesn't mean we will give up."

The RNZAF Orion has completed its aerial search, he said but other searches are continuing.


The known survivors are 54 males, aged between 10 and 70 years old. Their names released by Chief Inspector of Police Sokopeti K. To'ia, of Operation Ashika this afternoon are:

S/No, Name, Sex, Age, Address


1 Sitiveni A. 'Ali, m, 26, Ma'ufanga

2 Filipe Tau'ataina, m, 25, Ha'ateiho

3 Fisi'inaua Vea, m, 20, Hihifo, Ha'apai

4 Halatoa Maamaloa, m, 35, Longolongo

5 Kalipeno Lolohea, m, 19, Fasi

6 Kainga Ta'ufo'ou, m, 20, Kotu/Fo'ui

7 Lino Sakalia, m, 37, Ma'ufanga

8 Lotu Kalu, m, 21, Popua/Niuafo'ou

9 Alifeleti Malu Mafi, m, 18, Tofoa/Hala'ovave

10 Manu 'Utumoengalu, m, 19, Popua

11 Metui Satini, m, 20, Fangaloto

12 Penisimani Losaki, m, 22, Tofoa

13 Penisimani Tupou, m, 22, Ngele'ia

14 Po'oi Lolohea, m, 24, Lapaha/Nukuhetulu

15 Samisoni Palu, m, 25, Fangaloto/Hala'ovave

16 Semisi Ve'etutu Pomale, m, 25, Houmakelikao

17 Siale Kapeli, m, 10, Ma'ufanga/Lapaha

18 Sili Kalu, m, 34, Longolongo/Popua

19 Simote Mapu Taufu'i, m, 18, Tofoa

20 Siosiua Mahina, m, 18, Fasi/Tefisi Vv

21 Solomone Havili, m, 27, Fasi

22 Uasike Tupou, m, 34, Tofoa

23 Unaloto Finau, m, 31, Anana

24 Unaloto K. O. Uata, m, 26, Fangaloto

25 Vilai Haukinima, m, 21, Ha'afeva/Havelu

26 Viliami Tu'akoi, m, 28, Popua

27 Viliami Makahokovalu Tuputupu, m, 42 Niutoua/Tu'atakilangi

28 Siaosi Lavaka, m.


1 Eti Fetuani, m, 27, Tu'anekivale

2 Fatui Manu, m, 32, Ha'afeva

3 Halaliku 'Epenisa, m, 26, Ta'anea Vv

4 Halatoa Puafisi, m, 70, Nukuleka Tt

5 Hiva Taukei'aho, m, 19, Ha'afeva

6 Kelepi Tau, m, 25, Kameli Vv

7 Lea'asi 'Otuafi, m, 29, Ma'ufanga

8 Mafi Moala Taufa, m, 25, Matuku

9 Manoa Tu'ivailala, m, 31, Feletoa

10 Mesui Lemoto, m, 22, Ha'ateiho

11 Pau Tupou

12 Pelenato Pome'e

13 Sosaia Tone, m, 31, Ha'afeva

14 Sekona Fatafehi, m, 16, Kotu

15 Sifa Kafa, m, 53, Talafo'ou

16 Sione He'ehau, m, 21, Ha'afeva

17 Sione Ngalu, m, 29, Ha'ateiho

18 Sione Uasi, m, 26, Pangai Hp

19 Viliami Tatofi He'ehau, m, 33, Ha'afeva

20 Tevita Lotaki Kanongata'a, m, 70, Fotuha'a

21 Tongia Lemoto, m, 26, Ha'ateiho

22 Tu'imeli Luani, m, 25, Puke

23 Sekonaia Tuituiohu Pekipaki, m, 30, Uiha Hp

24 Vili Tulikihakau, m, 21, Koloa Vv

25 Viliami Mohenoa, m, 21, Ngele'ia

26 Kailata Fotu, m, 22, Ha'atou Hp

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