“They were sent into the cyclone,” says wife of missing fishing boat captain
Anxiety and hope have turned to anger for the wife of one of several fishermen missing since Cyclone Evan struck Samoa more than a month ago.
Yesterday, Olataga Key said her husband, 50-year-old father of five, James Key, would still be alive today if the fishing boat he captained did not venture out despite a warning from the Samoa Meteorology Office advising small boats and alias to stay ashore.
The first advisory from the Samoa Meteorology Office was issued at 5pm on Tuesday 11 December 2012. According to Mrs. Key, her husband and two other men, Sione Autafaga and Va’alele Likolao, went out on Wednesday.
“They knew there was a warning out but my husband told me that they had to go because the couple had already bought the materials for the fishing trip,” said Mrs. Key. “This included things like ice and gas.
“I don't think they should have went. The owners of the fishing boat should have stopped them. They should have known that there was an advisory from the Met Office.
“Instead, they were sent into the cyclone.”
The owners of the fishing boat have been identified as Felolina and Agagi.
Asked for a comment on Monday, Felolina scheduled an interview with the Samoa Observer for Wednesday. On Wednesday, however, she declined to comment.
“It’s best that you go straight to the Police for any confirmation regarding this matter because I am not the right person to give you the information,” she said.
Felolina was unsure about the full names of her crew. Told if it was not her responsibility as the employer to at least know their names, she said they were casual workers, men who came to look for work. There were no applications involved, she said.
Felolina also dismissed claims by the families of the fishermen that her fishing boat was not registered. She declined to elaborate.
Assistant Police Commissioner, Le’aupepe Fatu Pula said he could not confirm whether the fishing boat was registered.
But he said the search for the missing men has been called off and that the matter is now with the Maritime Division.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Key is far from impressed.
She is especially angry with the owners of the fishing boat whom she said have not been helpful. The mother said she has been trying to contact them about accessing funds from the National Provident Fund and perhaps the Accident Compensation Corporation to help raise her children.
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