In his address aired nationwide on the national radio, Radio Kiribati, President Maamau called on all churches and their members to join together in prayer for those who have lost their lives and their families.
“Based on this incident and unconfirmed reports, the Government has declared this week as the national week of prayer to help our fellow citizens who have been caught up in this tragic ordeal and all their families,” said President Maamau.
“The Government is requesting all Churches and their members including all the people of Kiribati to join hands in prayer”.
President Maamau said the first seven survivors have been found and rescued by a fishing vessel and are now aboard the vessel awaiting repatriation to Tarawa.
According to their testimonies, they said there are a hundred or more than one hundred passengers of the vessel. They said there are also passengers who are still floating in the vast ocean but their fate whether or not they're alive is still unknown.
Mr Maamau said one of the reasons why the news of the incident is incomplete is that it is still not yet known what time the vessel left the Betio port as it was required and expected to report to the Marine Division for inspection after being found unseaworthy to carry passengers.
President Maamau thanked the New Zealand, Australian and US Governments for their continued support and help in the search and rescue missions for the remaining passengers who are still missing.
The government first received news of the incident Friday 26 January, 2018