Six Bodies From Taimareho Man-Overboard Accident Recovered

File image courtesy WAC Shipping Community Company Limited

Published Apr 6, 2020 9:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

The remains of six victims from a disastrous man-overboard incident have been recovered near South Malaita Island, according to the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority. 

According to officials in the Solomons, at least 27 people were swept over the side of the ferry Taimareho in a storm last Friday. The vessel departed Honiara for West Are'are on Thursday night, despite the approach of Tropical Cyclone Harold. She arrived safely, but high waves and winds took more than two dozen people over the side during the voyage. Initial reports indicate that the master was unaware of the loss until after the vessel's arrival, and the exact number of people swept overboard may never be known, local police told the New Straits Times. 

Five bodies - three women and two men - were recovered Sunday on South Malaita, and an additional body washed up on shore on Monday. Police from the provincial capital of Auki, the ferry Taimareho, the patrol boat RSIPV Gizo and local volunteers participated in the search, acccording to Solomons Police Operation Centre commander Richard Menapi. 

21 others are still missing and the search is still underway. An investigation into the cause of the casualty will begin once the Taimareho has returned to Honiara. 

Cyclone Harold makes landfall

On Monday, Cyclone Harold made landfall in Vanuatu - located southeast of the Solomons - with 130 mph winds and reported gusts to 145. The first images from the scene showed heavy damage to buildings on the island of Espirito Santo, and a cluster of small merchant vessels were washed up on shore at Eken Island. No fatalities have been reported. 

Vanuatu is one of the few countries with no reported cases of novel coronavirus, and the government is expected to keep strict restrictions on travel in effect during the hurricane response effort. Aid groups have expressed concern that this could hamper access for relief workers, as Vanuatu has banned travel to or from nations with more than 100 known coronavirus cases.