The owner of the inter-island ship with 255 travelers onboard has claimed sabotage after a truck it was carrying caught fire at sea.
6 hours after leaving Suva for Savusavu and Taveuni on Monday night, the ten-wheeler truck that has been loaded with alcohol, rice and fifteen cartons of matches caught fire onboard the MV Lomaiviti Princess vessel.
George Goundar, who is owner of the damaged MV Lomaiviti Princess told that he believed it was foul play because boxes of matches were found around the canvas of the truck in the car deck.
Police officials confirmed that at 11:23 p.m. on Monday, they received numerous calls that the inter-island ship was on fire while sailing off Kaba waters.
Ana Naisoro, who is the police officials' spokesman told the fire started in the car deck.
Mr. George Goundar added one of the crew members notified the engineer after seeing black smoke in the 1st-class lounge. He told when the fire team arrived at the car deck, they found the black rubber canvas on fire.
"We were forced to turn the ship around to face the wind so the smoke was pushed out of the accommodation zones of the vessel," Mr Goundar added.
"Engineers used 5 fire extinguishers in order to put the fire out. I am sure someone wants to sabotage this vessel."
Vessel's owner, George Goundar also told that foul play was a possibility, citing tough competition with other shipowners.
He told they had spoken to truck drivers and they suspected the same thing.
He told people onboard panicked but were ushered to safety by the crew members.
"I thank the Lord because all the people onboard the damaged vessel MV Lomaiviti Princess were safe although we were running 5 hours late.
"We took all the precautions and the crew members were on standby at the car deck until the ship reached Savusavu to offload."John O'Connor, CEO of National Fire Adjustment told they weren't aware of the accident, adding they would investigate once they received a report.