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Second body found, memorial service held for victims of Solomons boating tragedy

Thursday 13 January 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Solomon Islands

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Second body found, memorial service held for victims of Solomons boating tragedy
A family lays a wreath during the memorial service for the 14 people missing at sea. Photo: Supplied

The body of a child has been found in Solomon Islands and police say he's one of nine children who went missing at sea on New Year's Day.

A boat carrying 14 people left Gizo for the Shortland Islands but failed to reach its destination.

The body of a woman was found near Zinoa Island on Tuesday - about 100 kilometres from the Shortlands.

Health officials on Taro Island had confirmed the body was that of a child, which is being kept at Taro Police Station for further investigation.

Police said a family, travelling from Supsizae to Taro in Choiseul Province to attend a church service, found the child.

The bodies of a woman and a child were recovered, police said.

Meanwhile, a memorial service was held at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Gizo for the victims of the New Year's Day boat tragedy.

Church official Rellysdom Malakana said the service was attended by hundreds of people.

Police and maritime search and rescue teams had called off the recovery operation on 7 January.

Mourners pay their respects at the St Peter's Cathedral in Gizo.

Mourners pay their respects at the St Peter's Cathedral in Gizo. Photo: Supplied

Malakana said villagers along the Moli and Taro islands continue to search for those still missing.

He said after the service, boatloads of mourners travelled out to sea to place wreaths for their loved ones.

Gizo resident Terence Ziru, who knew some of those missing, said hundreds of people gathered in the town's St Peter's Cathedral to pay their respects.

Ziru said it's been a tough two weeks for the families of the victims.

"There hasn't been much information about the child. He was only identified when the body was picked up and brought to Taro, the capital of Choiseul Province.

"The medical inspectors had inspected the body and they had determined that it was of a child. The woman, however, was identified through the tattoo.

"The whole public is totally affected by the incident especially with the young children. They were all there, everybody was there whether they were related or not.

"But everyone wanted to show their support for the families. And Gizo being such a small community-based township, everybody knows everyone."

Families of the 14 victims head out to sea to lay wreaths during the memorial service in Gizo.

Families of the 14 victims head out to sea to lay wreaths during the memorial service in Gizo. Photo: Supplied

Youths survive ordeal at sea

Meanwhile a group of youths from South Malaita were rescued last Sunday after their boat capsized at Ulawa Island in the Makira Ulawa Province.

The Solomon Star reported that 14 members of Roapu Youth Group were travelling on three boats when the incident happened.

The youths had set off for South Malaita from Su'u Moli on Ulawa around 7am on Sunday.

One of the teenagers told the Star that at around 9am, the second boating carrying 13 capsized due to rough seas, but were fortunate to be met by the third boat.

The third boat had to return to Su'u Moli and drop off its passengers before returning to rescue those stranded.

The capsized boat could not be retrieved and all the passengers are safe.

Passengers on the first boat had contacted Taheramo Police to confirm their safe arrival in South Malaita.

One of the boats carrying members of the  Roapu Youth Group from South Malaita.

One of the boats carrying members of the Roapu Youth Group from South Malaita. Photo: Supplied