Eight students from Jones Adventist College in Western Province, who went missing after the boat they were travelling in encountered problems between Gizo and Vella La Vella, were rescued this morning.
Speaking to SIBC News, the Maritime Officer in Gizo, Whitley Douglas says the boat they were travelling in left Gizo yesterday afternoon and was overloaded with 13 passengers, and cargoes belonging to the school and to school staff.
When the boat ran into problems at sea, the eight students were told to jump off the boat and keep swimming afloat, while the skipper transported the other five passengers and the cargoes to Vonunu.
Mr Douglas says when the skipper returned for the eight students, a strong current had taken them towards Kolombangara Island.
“They were caught up with the current which took them all the way to Kolombangara but they kept on swimming until they were close to the island. One female has a life jacket on while a male was holding onto an empty plastic container, which helped to keep him floating. These are the only floatation devises they have onboard so they’ve managed to utilise them, keeping them through the strong current. About 6.30am the next day their same boat have managed to pick them up after hearing their shouts and sighting them. They are now in hospital.”
The Maritime Officer also confirms, five of the students are in stable condition while three are in critical condition and receiving medical attention at the Vonunu Clinic.
“Upon assessment by the health workers there, Nurse-in-charge at the clinic noticed that the three are in a critical condition so he puts them on the drip. Two were female students and one is a male student. The other remaining five seem to be okay upon assessment so they were discharged from the hospital today.”
SIBC News understands this is the second overloading boating incident to have happened in the Western Province, since last week.