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Deathtrap ferry

Vanuatu’s worst maritime tragedy raises questions on safety checks

THE inter-island Vanuatu ferry which capsized and sank in July last year with the loss of four lives was a floating deathtrap, a leaked report has revealed.

The damning report, described by marine experts as one of the worst ever seen in the Pacific, into the sinking of LC-MGY was leaked to the media after sitting in a government drawer since the beginning of November last year.

On July 11 last year, the 30-metre Landing Craft MGY was heading from Malekula to Port Vila with 41 people on board when it started listing heavily to the portside.

The vessel capsized – 37 people were rescued but four, including a 10-monthold baby, perished and LC-MGY eventually sank in 350 metres of water about 3.5 km off Mangaliliu, north-west of Efate island.

Matt Grimley, who is Vanuatu’s leading professional diver and salvage contractor from Performance Marine Commercial Diving, was contacted at 9.30am – five hours after LC-MGY capsized. He and another diver jumped from a helicopter into the water beside the stricken vessel and he managed to retrieve two of the bodies from inside the upturned ferry before it finally sank.

Grimley told Islands Business that he was absolutely in no doubt that he would have saved all four of those killed if he had been contacted a few hours earlier.

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