Who will be held responsible?

Kiribati under the spotlight after ferry disaster

ATOLL nation of Kiribati in the northern Pacific was consumed with grief in January when 80 people including children died presumably drowned in a ferry incident.

Grief turned to anger later when it was learnt that authorities did not initiate a search for the passengers and crew of the MV Butiraoi until one week after it sunk.

Former President of Kiribati Anote Tong has been among those who have been vocal about the government’s handling of the sea tragedy, believed to be the country’s worst to date.

In a visit to Fiji last month, President Tong spoke to Indepth about the tragedy.

IB: Given the Kiribati Government’s handling of the tragedy, do you believe things could have been handled better?

Former President Tong: It would be pretentious on my part to pretend that I know the whole story but I think what has happened is that there has been very strong public reaction to what I call the very long silence. That’s really what the public was so upset about. There was nothing coming from anybody especially government until a week later, a week after the boat has been lost. They are asking, why did that happen? How come something like a boat could be lost for a week and it was not reported?

IB: In your experience, does Kiribati has adequate laws which if enforced could avoid this type of sea disasters?

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