MV Butiraoi Sinks 50 Passengers Aboard in Gilbert Islands – The MV Butiraoi, a 55-foot wooden catamaran ferry, left Nonouti Island in the Gilbert Islands (see video below) for South Tarawa, Kiribati on Thursday, January 18, 2018 for a two day trip, with sea conditions “moderate to rough” at the time.
The ferry began the nearly 150-mile journey to Betio on Tarawa with a reported 50 passengers aboard. There are more than 40 passengers now considered missing.
Search and rescue aircraft have located a debris field. It is not clear at this time, what may caused MV Butiraoi to capsize. It was possible recent repairs to its propeller shaft may have contributed to navigation problems.
Republic of Kiribati in the Gilbert Islands is located in the central Pacific Ocean. The permanent population is just over 110,000 (2015), more than half of whom live on Tarawa Atoll. The nation comprises 33 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island, Banaba.
The islands have a total land area of of 310 sq miles is dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres. It is also one of the nations most at risk from rising sea levels.