Call for taskforce to pursue missing 57, after 61 years
By IAN M.KAUKUI
A Commissioner of Oath, Jones Sanga has called on representatives of the 57 locals on board the British RCS Melanesian that disappeared without a trace in 1958 to form a taskforce to pursue the case further, given that there is no compensation paid to date.
According to reports, the British ship RCS Melanesian left Sulufou Island to Sikaiana in Malaita province took on-board a total of 64 people including seven expatriates.
Sanga said since the disappearance of vessel and those on board, there was not even a single compensation paid for the lives of the locals.
He added the incident occurred 20 years before Solomon Islands attained independence and it is believed that the British government did not fully equip the ship with proper or safety equipment that could be used for rescue purposes.
“…..the British government should be blamed for the luck of proper equipment on board the ship.
“As one of the Commissioner of Oath, I called on the representatives of the people on board the vessel to form a task force and pursue the case with the responsible authorities,” he said.
Sanga said he has the report which took him all of the years but he wants those representatives to come forward.
He said on board the ship are also government officials who are doing assessment following a fire incident that burnt the whole island of Sulufou.
“The assessment was done following the invitation from a District Commissioner in Malaita mainly to find out the root cause of the fire and damage on the island,” he said.
“It was after that assessment, that they left for Sikaiana and met their mysterious disappearance,” he added.
Sanga said a call for the Australian army was made 10 days after with an extensive sea and air search but failed to locate any survivors.
He said at that time, there was a Commissioner of Enquiry formed comprising three people, two officers from Fiji and one local.
“From that Commissioner of Enquiry, no substantial evidence was found to say whether the ship is seaworthy or if there are pirates or submarine involved in that disappearance.
Another report cited by the paper has it that the ship left Sulufou in Malaita’s Lau Lagoon on 9 July and was last heard from on 10 July 1958, after which she disappeared with sixty-four people aboard.
“The ship was thought to have sunk near Sikaiana in 1,200 fathoms of water since its last message was at 9:00 am on 10 July, twenty-five miles west of Sikaiana.
“Limited wreckage began washing up on the east Malaita coast on 18 July, but only one partial body was ever found, that of Reef Islands boatswain David Daewo, who washed ashore at Maanawai,” the statement revealed.
It was believed the other sixty-three passengers are all presumed to have disappeared with the ship.
“A subsequent enquiry suggested the ship sunk quickly, but an extensive investigation never released a conclusive report.
“Some thought the ship had been attacked by or hit a submarine and a loud noise out at sea was heard in south Malaita at 4 pm on 12 July which some thought related to the missing vessel – Melanesian,” it was further revealed.