Kiribati accused of trying to hide ferry disaster report

WELLINGTON (AFP) – The government of Kiribati was accused yesterday of attempting to bury a damning report into the Pacific island nation’s worst ferry disaster, which claimed 81 lives last year.

Officials have reportedly released only a few hard copies of the report into the loss of the ferry MV Butiraoi, which sank in January last year after setting off from Nonouti island bound for the capital Tarawa.

Ferries are a transport lifeline in Kiribati, which consists of 33 atolls and reefs scattered over an area the size of the continental United States.

The report can only be viewed at President Taneti Maamau’s office or the national library in Tarawa, Radio New Zealand reported, adding that those who saw the document could not copy it or even take notes about its contents.

Despite the extraordinary restrictions, former president Ierimia Tabai said he had seen the report and could relay its main findings.