The operator of a ferry line is reportedly being sued over the deaths of 13 polo ponies who are alleged to have died while crossing Australia’s Bass Strait.

Polo player and former Australia captain Andrew Williams is reported to have lodged the writ against TT-Line Company and logistics company QUBE Holdings Limited at the Victoria Supreme Court on 24 August, following the horses’ deaths in January.

Earlier this year, H&H reported that 16 ponies were found dead on Mr William’s lorry following a crossing from Devonport, Tasmania to Melbourne aboard the Spirit of Tasmania.

The ponies, several of which are said to have been “five generations in the making”, had been playing at Tasmania’s premier polo event at Barnbougle.

All bar two were reported to have been found dead when Mr Williams stopped the lorry in mainland Australia, an hour or so after disembarking.

At the time, a spokesman for the Tasmanian department of primary industries, parks, water and environment termed it an “isolated incident” and added that the department “was confident that there is not an ongoing risk for the transport of horses across Bass Strait”.

The writ, filed by Mr Williams and his partner Rebecca Ann Williams, Twynam Agricultural Group and Willo polo pony mangers is seeking $639,000 (£354,522) for loss of the horses and $100,000 (£55,480) for loss of profits and wages.

It claims that TT-line were “negligent” and “failed in their duty of care” over the horses while aboard the ship, alleging failure to provide a safe environment for the horses, failure to have an adequate inspection routine for the horses, failure to have an adequate monitoring system for the animals, failure to provide adequate air ventilation and a failure to measure the horses’ on-board air quality.

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Results of the autopsies carried out at the time by authorities have still not been released, sparking controversy among Australia’s horse-owning public.

TT-Line told ABC News it would not comment until the investigation was finished.

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