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Sunday 18 February 2018

Coastguard makes dramatic rescue in 'incredible' conditions

Ralph Riegel

A COASTGUARD helicopter crew defied a snow storm and an ice-covered windscreen to rescue a badly injured fisherman off the south coast.

Weather conditions were so atrocious off the Cork-Waterford coast that the Sikorsky helicopter temporarily had to return to Cork Airport after its windscreen became covered in a thick sheet of ice.

The drama unfolded shortly after 10am when an emergency alert was issued by the Corona Gloria trawler operating some 130km off the Cork coast.

One of its crewmen suffered severe head, hand and leg injuries when he was accidentally struck by a heavy steel hawser in high winds.

The man -- who is in his late 30s -- was knocked unconscious and an emergency alert was issued.

The trawler immediately headed toward the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Irish Coastguard helicopter was launched but, as it approached the trawler some 120km off the coast, it ran into a blizzard.

Irish Coastguard official John Falvey said the crew subsequently overcame incredibly difficult conditions.

"The windscreen froze over and the pilot had no option but to return (ashore) because the visibility was affected," he said.

"They went back to Cork Airport, they refuelled and they waited for the trawler to come in closer to shore where the weather was better."

The Sikorsky was then able to return to the vessel and winch the injured crewman onboard for transfer to hospital. The trawler was some 70km off the coast.

"As well as that we had the Naval Service vessel, LE Orla, alongside and they have a medic on board the vessel as well," he said.

After transfer ashore, the injured crewman underwent emergency surgery in Cork University Hospital last night. His condition was said to be serious but stable.

Fishermen last night paid tribute to the heroism of the Irish Coastguard helicopter crew.

Irish Independent

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