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Tonga ferry captain says authorities to blame for sinking

He says he was pressured into sailing the Princess Ashika even though it was known to have problems. The sinking left 93 missing and presumed dead.

August 11, 2009|Associated Press

NUKU'ALOFA, TONGA — The captain of the Tongan ferry that sank and left 93 people missing and presumed dead said Monday that he was pressured into sailing the vessel even though authorities knew it had problems.

Capt. Maka Tuputupu blamed the sinking on rusted loading ramps that allowed water into the ship, and he said the Tongan government should take responsibility because it knew there were problems with the vessel.

Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele and Transportation Minister Paul Karalus have said the Princess Ashika was fully seaworthy, was fully certificated for the service and met all international maritime standards.

No survivors have been found since an initial rescue of 54 people and the recovery of two bodies after the vessel sank Wednesday.

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