The Solomon Islands Maritime office is calling on the public to practice caution especially when travelling in between Islands, and also to take heed of warnings issued by the MET service.

This follows the sinking of a ray boat near Bungana Island yesterday, where two passengers are still reported missing.

“What is concerning is people are ignoring warnings issued by the MET service, we have had several warnings of strong winds which we all know will cause rough conditions for small boats,” said an officer at the MET service.

Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Central Province, Inspector Hugo Maelasi says, “The ray boat with 22 passengers from Koilavala and Vunuha villages in Small Gela, left Honiara at 4 pm yesterday and on their way experienced mechanical problems with one of their engines, so they only used one engine.”

“When they came close to Bungana they began to experience bad weather and the ray boat started to take in water until it sunk, overturned and drifted. Luckily, the passengers managed to get in touch with someone on shore about their ordeal. Three boats were sent for the search and rescue including a stabi-craft from the RSIPF Maritime in Honiara,” PPC Maelasi explains.

He adds: “Twenty of the passengers were rescued throughout the night including two young boys, by 4 am this morning. Two passengers believed to be two male adults are still missing as the search continues. All the rescued passengers were transported to the Tulagi Hospital for medical attention.”

“I want to strongly warn my good people of Central Province never to overload your boats. Listen to the sea safety messages that the RSIPF and other authorities have been repeating over the years.

"Check the weather before you travel. Always carry life jackets and other marine safety equipment on board for your passengers. And don’t drink alcohol when you are travelling in these small boats between our Islands. You are only endangering your life and that of your passengers,” PPC Maelasi stresses.