It is hard to believe that in a region surrounded by sea, legislation has not been created, or enforced if they exist to ensure greater protection for those who travel between the islands.
THE sinking of the Kiribati inter-island carrier, Buti Raoi, will go down in history as one of the Pacific’s greatest disasters at sea. Because it will take time to determine how many people were aboard the wooden catamaran, it is possible that as many as 90 people perished when the tiny craft sank between Nonouti and Betio.
The most tragic aspect of this event is – that like many disasters before – this tragedy could have been avoided. In ports around the Pacific vessels of all shapes and sizes put to sea for treacherous journeys without the slightest regard for passenger safety. Many of these craft are dangerously overloaded with freight and crew, carry no two-way radio, flares, medical kits or emergency supplies of life jackets.
Yet they travel hundreds of miles, sometimes far from the sight of any who might afford help in the event of an emergency. Maritime authorities and police in most island countries lack the resources to effectively enforce the rules – where they exist – to ensure compliance with safety measures.
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