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Tonga maritime accident 2009

Tonga Red Cross Society is providing support and counselling to survivors of the MV Princess Ashika ferry tragedy, as well as family members of the dead and missing.

The ferry, which was carrying 129 people, sank in the early hours of 6 August, on route from Nuku'alofa to Ha'afeva in the Ha'apai Islands group. Two people were confirmed dead, with 73 missing, presumed drowned. Fifty-four people were rescued from the accident. A team from the New Zealand Navy identified the ship at a depth of 120 metres but expert dive teams have been unable to reach the ship.

Australian Red Cross has sent a psychological support professional to assist the Tonga Red Cross in the counselling of those affected by the accident, particularly individuals whose family members are suspected to be among those missing from the ship. The Australian expert will also train Tonga Red Cross Society staff and volunteers in psychosocial support, to enable the national society to increase its support to people affected by the disaster.

Immediately after the disaster, Tonga Red Cross Society staff and volunteers worked closely with the Tongan Police Force to respond to the immediate needs of the 54 survivors who were evacuated to a church building in Panagai Ha'apai. This included distributing food, drinks and blankets.

Tonga Red Cross Society also provided services to assist members of the Tongan community to locate family members who were thought to have been involved in the accident.

The Tonga Maritime Accident 2009 appeal is now closed.

Donations made to the Tonga Maritime Accident 2009 appeal will be used to support:

  • Relief and rehabilitation for victim's families and disaster survivors.
  • Deployment of specialist aid workers to assist in Tonga Red Cross' response if required.
  • Red Cross programs of assistance in the affected areas.


Note: Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will direct the excess funds to other emergency preparedness and response initiatives in the Asia Pacific region.