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Boat crash investigations continue -

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Boat crash investigations continue

Reporter: David Mark

ELEANOR HALL: To Sydney where police say they still have many questions about the fatal boat
accident on Sydney Harbour at 3am Eastern Time this morning which killed five people and injured
nine more.

They have confirmed that the small half-cabin cruiser on which all those killed were travelling was
overloaded and it is also alleged that it was stolen for a joy ride.

The investigations though are continuing into details like whether the craft was using its lights
when it was hit by a fishing trawler off Bradley's Head, near the place where four people were
killed last year in a collision between a pleasure launch and a ferry.

The New South Wales Coroner is now investigating the deaths, as David Mark reports.

DAVID MARK: The accident happened at around 2:40 this morning, Sydney time.

A fishing trawler on its way out to sea crashed into a 23 foot half-cabin cruiser just off
Bradley's Head near Taronga Park Zoo, throwing many of its passengers into the water.

The trawler's bow has a hole in it, but the cruiser came off far worse - its stern was badly
smashed.

Inspector Glenn Finniss is the Acting Commander of the New South Wales Police Marine Area Command.

GLENN FINNISS: Well obviously two boats are moving on the water at night time - it's poor
visibility at night time obviously.

There has been a collision involving two vessels, and as a result of that, people have lost their
lives.

DAVID MARK: Four women and a man in their late teens and early twenties were killed another nine
people were injured - an 18-year-old woman and eight men in their twenties.

Six have now been discharged, but one of the injured is in a critical condition.

Passing boats and police helped the night-time rescue of those in the water.

GLENN FINNISS: Water police were out there, we had two vessels attending that scene, we had other
recreational vessels that were in that area at the time.

We set up a triage area at Taronga Park Zoo area.

DAVID MARK: The Police say their main aim now is to identify the five who died and prepare a report
for the State Coroner.

No doubt one area of inquiry will be why the cabin cruiser was out at night.

The boat is owned by a Sydney boat repair yard and is used to ferry workers around the harbour, or
for emergency repairs.

The police say the boat wasn't stolen, but the boat's owners have a different story.

John McPherson, the Managing Director of Sydney Ship Repairs and Engineering, says a set of keys
were hidden on board the boat.

JOHN MCPHERSON: Our boats would only go on the harbour at night time if we were called out to an
emergency on one of our client's vessels, and that certainly didn't occur last night.

It appears that somebody has decided that they are going to take our boat for a joy ride, and this
horrible event has happened.

DAVID MARK: All 14 victims were on board the cabin cruiser, which was only licensed to carry eight
passengers.

Inspector Glenn Finniss.

GLENN FINNISS: Well the boat is designed for a certain number of people, and that'll all be a part
of the investigation.

DAVID MARK: The boat's owner says it would have been overloaded.

JOHN MCPHERSON: The vessel has only two (inaudible) chairs - like one for the driver and one for
the passenger, then a side seat on each side, and the majority of the people would have had to be
sitting in the last two-thirds of the boat, and it would have been low in the water, down at the
stern.

DAVID MARK: There are still many questions unanswered. How fast were the boats going? Were they
using lights? Were the victims wearing life jackets? Had they been drinking?

Those questions will be answered in time by the coroner.

In the meantime, many people are also asking why there have been more deaths from collisions on
Australia's most famous waterway.

Sydney Harbour is the city's playground, it's renowned for its natural splendour and sparkling
waters, and yet 11 people have died on the harbour in the past 16 months.

The New South Wales Police aren't drawing any conclusions at this stage about the spate of
accidents.

But the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has given voice to the thoughts of those who use the harbour.

KEVIN RUDD: So much of that city's life and activity and celebration, recreation occurs on or
around the harbour and so, when these sort of things happen, it's not just the immediate tragedy,
which affects the families of those concerned and those who are still in hospital, but I think all
Sydneysiders feel this because, the harbour is the centre of their life.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd ending David Mark's report.