Efforts to re-float stricken oil vessel in Solomon Islands begin

An operation is underway in the Solomon Islands to re-float a ship that ran aground three months ago, causing an environmental disaster.

The MV Solomon Trader was carrying 700 tonnes of oil. It hit a reef at Rennell Island, near a protected marine area, on February 5. Part of its cargo has leaked into the sea, poisoning fishing grounds.

"They have been trying to refloat the vessel since Thursday but because of low tide they have not been able to, until today," said Melchior Mataki, chair of the Solomons National Disaster Council.

Rennell Island is one of the largest raised coral attolls in the world. But authorities are sure it hasn't been damaged by the 6km-long oil spill.

"There is a preliminary report but the full report will be made known once assessments and investigation findings are compiled properly," said Mataki.

The Solomons government is likely to seek financial compensation from the boat's charter, Indonesian-based Bintan Mining.



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