Saturday 22 July 2017

Navy divers will take to water again tomorrow in search for five fishermen

Lyndsey Telford

DIVE teams are planning a fifth day of searches off the coast of Co Cork where they hope to find the bodies of five fishermen feared drowned in the Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy.





Navy and Garda divers took advantage of improved weather conditions and scoured the wreckage off Adam's Island into the night.



They also searched an area north of where the ill-fated trawler sunk off on Sunday morning, where strong currents have since pushed debris from the vessel.



The Irish Coast Guard confirmed that a remotely operated vehicle and camera had been sent down to the wreck to survey areas that are difficult for divers to reach, and that it may be deployed again tomorrow.



Nets and debris being pushed and pulled in and out of the wreckage of the trawler have posed risks to both divers and for the video equipment.



"The camera will certainly be able to survey the area and might pick up on something the divers have missed," a Coast Guard spokesman said.



The spokesman added that it was difficult to say whether the bodies of the missing men - including skipper Michael Hayes, 52, student Kevin Kershaw, 21, and Egyptians Wael Mohammed, Saied Ali Eldin and Attia Shaban - are likely to have been swept off the boat amid strong currents.



Weather conditions during the first few days of the search were described as treacherous, but the spokesmen said the wind had eased significantly on Wednesday, making it easier for divers.



"The wind for tomorrow is due to go westerly, which is good because it means the area will be sheltered," the spokesman went on.



"When it was coming from the south east earlier in the week it was increasing the swell making conditions very difficult."



Dive teams from Gardai and the Navy have taken part in the search, along with rigid inflatable boats from the Coast Guard and dozens of local trawlers.



Coast Guard helicopters have also been deployed throughout the week.



Meanwhile, a memorial has been erected on the pier at Union Hall with tealight candles and flowers left by relatives of the missing men.



Verses from the folk song John O' Dreams were also written out while a note at the bottom of the tribute read simply: "May God send you all home safe."



The mother of Mr Kershaw, Margaret, floated a number of candles into the sea at the quayside.



Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant Commander Roberta O'Brien said a team of six Navy divers and a co-ordinator were taking advantage of the break in the weather.



It is understood an initial 10-minute assessment dive is normally carried out before divers take to the water for a more extensive search.



The swell dropped to 0.5m (1ft 7in) and the wind shifted direction from southerly to westerly overnight, helping to ease conditions at the wreck site.



Relatives of the missing men have maintained pier-side vigils since the alarm was raised at 6am on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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