Six men airlifted to safety from raft after boat sinks
SIX fishermen who escaped on a life raft as their trawler sank at sea were airlifted to safety yesterday.
A rescue operation was launched when the vessel started taking on water about 15 miles north of Malin Head, Co Donegal.
The Irish Coast Guard said all six men were safe and well.
The 118 rescue helicopter from Sligo and RNLI crews from Lough Swilly and Portrush were sent to the scene.
Joe Joyce, spokesman for Lough Swilly RNLI, said they received a request to launch at 10.05am.
"The boat was taking on water fast. The boat has now sunk," he said.
"The men all have survival gear on and they had activated their distress beacon."
The crew was made up of five men from Donegal, including skipper Patrick McClafferty, from Downings, and a Lithuanian man.
Hugh McBride, part-owner of the McBride Fishing Company, which operated the boat, said there was no explanation for the sudden sinking at this stage.
"The skipper is well experienced, he's been with us for 30 years and seemed to handle things calmly.
"Everybody is safe and well and that's the main thing," he said.
"But it's very traumatic for everybody," he added.
The five deckhands were aged in their 20s and 30s.
The Amy Jane was a 20-year-old, 60ft crabber. Mr McBride said there was no suggestion the boat hit anything.