FIRST PICTURES OF SUNKEN FERRY RELEASED

Unmanned submersible took photo at 110 meters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 12, 2009) – The first pictures have been released of the sunken Tongan ferry, MV Princess Ashika, on the sea floor 86 kilometres north-west of the capital, Nuku'alofa.

With large weed-covered rocks beside it, the ferry sits 110 metres [360 feet] below the surface.

Visible are the bow section with ramp, bridge area and passenger compartment.

A combined search by the New Zealand and Australian navies found the wreck of the vessel, which sank last week with the loss of more than 90 lives.

New Zealand defence force spokesman Captain Zac Trendergast says the ferry was found by a remote diving apparatus.

"(The apparatus) has been operating at the 100-metre mark," he said - well below the safe depth for divers.

The maximum depth the divers can go is 60 metres.

Only two bodies have been recovered so far and authorities believe the bodies of the 93 passengers listed as missing are still trapped inside the ferry.

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