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Kiribati Boatie in New Zealand sentenced for putting lives at risk

3:12PM Wednesday February 18, 2009
Source: NZPA

A man who was swept 30km out to sea in a small dinghy with his nephew, without lifejackets, oars or a cellphone, has been sentenced to 50 hours community work for putting lives at risk.

Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says it has successfully prosecuted Itintawara Baraniko, originally from Kiribati, under the Maritime Transport Act in relation to the incident.

Baraniko, 37 and his nephew, 21, were swept out to sea at the end of June, while attempting to set a net at night in Hawke's Bay's Tukituki River estuary.

Their 2.5m dingy capsized in strong currents at the mouth of the river and as they clung to the side of it they were pulled out of the river mouth into the Pacific Ocean.

They managed to get back into the boat, but were left to huddle together, wet, throughout the cold and frosty night.

After a major search and rescue operation they were finally found about 30km off the coast, when a passing freighter saw them. Both men were suffering from hypothermia.

Baraniko has admitted the charge in Napier District Court and was sentenced to 50 hours community service, MNZ recreational boating manager Jim Lott said in a statement.

The pair had no lifejackets or any other safety equipment on board.

Baraniko had a responsibility for ensuring lifejackets were carried, Lott says.

"These two men were incredibly lucky to be found alive, given that they did everything wrong when embarking on this trip."

"Failure to carry lifejackets and reliable communications are the two leading causes of fatalities on the water, and it is only through sheer good luck that we are not now attending a coronial inquest."

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