MV Liahona II emergency: Sgt Qereqeretabua takes charge

Part of the group from Gau on board the MV Liahona II who were on their way to Dravuni. Picture: SUPPLIED

A POLICEWOMAN who was on a ship that developed trouble while enroute to Kadavu, contacted maritime authorities and comforted passengers as the vessel began to take in water.

Sergeant Lavenia Qereqeretabua knew the lives of 121 passengers were at risk when the ramp of MV Liahona II fell off the vessel just two hours after it left Suva for Kadavu on Thursday morning.

She was accompanying more than 30 people from Qarani, Gau, who were on their way to Dravuni Village for a traditional gathering known as “kau mata ni gone”.

“We left Narain Jetty at around 12midday and we were awoken by a sound and we thought the vessel was wrecked on a reef,” she said.

“Then one of the crew came to inform us that the ramp had detached from the vessel and reassured us that everything was going to be OK.

“People were worried because water started entering the vessel. I saw the chaos in the vessel and children were vomiting because it was cold and we had exceeded our travelling time.

“So, I knew that as a police officer, I had to step in and assist people on board.

“I went up to the captain and asked him to provide us an explanation of what had happened.

“Once I was briefed on our situation, I started calling around for help, contacting the Criminal Investigation Department, MSAF and even parliamentarian Lenora Qereqeretabua to ask them to get us help because we were in a very dangerous situation.”

She said throughout the trip, she tried to comfort people so they wouldn’t panic and was relieved when the Fiji Navy arrived and escorted the boat to safety.

“I have been in the Fiji Police Force for the past 20 years and have never come across a situation like this.”

Sgt Qereqeretabua said they safely arrived at Dravuni Village.

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