Friday 15 December 2017

Fisherman remains missing after boat capsizes on Lough Ree

Boat believed to have capsized on the lake in 'gusty' conditions

A Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat. Photo: RNLI
A Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat. Photo: RNLI

Cormac Murphy and Eoghan MacConnell

A FISHERMAN remains missing tonight and two others are recovering in hospital following a boat accident on Lough Ree near Athlone.

The search for the third man continued for hours after his two companions had earlier been pulled from the water but he was not located.

All three men are believed to be from Northern Ireland.

They were part of a group of six from an angling club in Armagh.

They had left from Hodson Bay in Athlone, Co Westmeath, on an angling trip this afternoon.

The group had informed locals of their plans to camp overnight on the lakeshore at Carna a few kilometres from Hodson Bay.

A local man who met them on their way out advised them of the poor conditions on the lake.

Richie O'Hara of Baysports said “two of the party came into our centre at about 4.30pm and they were quite concerned about three of their party who they were meant to meet”.

The alarm was raised by a local man this afternoon when he witnessed the group setting off for Carnagh in a 15 foot boat. 

Conditions on the Lough were described as gusty with a force five to six wind.

An extensive search by the Air Corps and the RNLI could not locate the third man .

“We got a call at 3.20pm. It was a routine report. Someone reported a small angling boat that might be getting into difficulty,” a spokesman for the Irish Coast Guard said.

An RNLI lifeboat was sent to find the vessel but the search was scaled up when debris including boat parts and fishing gear was found.

“One person was located and taken ashore and another person was located not long afterwards,” the coast guard said.

The men were taken to hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, by ambulance.

The boat is thought to have capsized while they were on the lake.

The first man was recovered at 4pm and brought to shore at Hodson Bay. The second man was brought to shore at about 5.30pm.

The search is to continue at first light tomorrow.

Westmeath county councillor Kevin Moran, who is an angler, said: “I'm a man of the water. I do an awful lot of fishing. It's very sad to see something like that happen. There were very bad conditions on Lough Ree.

“There were heavy gusts with some thunder showers and those gusts were severe. If you're fishing in Hodson Bay, you're sheltered but if you go out a small bit it becomes very choppy and very severe.”

He said an angler met the three men going out and told them the conditions were very bad out there.

Martin McEnroe, vice-chairman of the Angling Council of Ireland, said: “There was a yellow gale warning out from the met office. There was a weather warning on for strong winds and gales. Lough Ree is a serious lake. It's very open. We would not attempt to go out on a day like today. We would know the lake and we would understand it.”

“It was pointed out to them by a person that the conditions were quite bad,” Mr McEnroe told the Irish Independent. The same person subsequently raised the alarm.

The men had gone pike angling. “They were three lovely fellas down for a few days fishing out on the lake here and they told me they were heading out doing a bit of pike fishing. The weather wasn’t great at the time,” local man Dave McEnroe told RTE News.

Lough Ree RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Damien Delaney said, “This was a major search and rescue operation on Lough Ree.

"The lifeboat crew were able to rescue two men from the water but a third remains missing."

"Our thoughts are with the men’s families this evening.  We will be launching again at first light to resume the search.’

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