Tafua triple tragedy in Coronial Court

An inquiry into the death of three men who died in a landslide at Tafua-tai in 2018 is ongoing at the Coronial Court. 

The three men were mining soil for a brick-making company in Tafua-tai when a landslide allegedly killed them.

The deceased men are David Laloata of Tafua, Meki Matau of Tafua and Fogalefatu Tiatia of Gataivai. 

Earlier this month, the investigating officer into the death of the men, Sergeant Muamua Papo, gave evidence in the inquiry. 

Presided by Coroner and District Court Judge, Alalatoa Rosella Papali'i, the officer said the incident which took the lives of the men occurred on 10 September 2018. 

He told the Court that the Police was informed when a doctor at the Tuasivi hospital contacted the outpost that someone had died with several other injuries from a landslide. 

Sergeant Papo said the two other deceased were discovered later when an excavator machine dug up the area where the men were working earlier on that day. 

He added that businessman, Kalapu Matiu, employed the men who were instructed to remove soil for his brick-making venture. 

The Coroner then queried the investigating officer if he had asked Kalapu Matiu if the area was surveyed before the men started their work. She emphasised that health and safety is crucial especially in construction work. 

In response, Sergeant Papo said he did not ask the question. 

He said his investigation concluded that the men died as a result of the landslide that buried them under causing their death. 

But Coroner Alalatoa said the officer should have asked the question if the land was surveyed before the work was done to determine it there was an element of negligence on the part of the employer. 

She reminded the Sergeant that three men died from the landslide and someone had to be held accountable. 

The Coroner then instructed Police to have an engineer survey the area where the incident took place. 

The matter has been further adjourned until October.

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