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Lack of sleep was 'key factor' in trawler tragedy

A PERSONAL mobile phone was used by a visitor on board the tragic Tit Bonhomme trawler to raise the alarm because the crew did not appear to know how to use the radio equipment on board.

The biggest factor in the trawler's sinking off west Cork with the loss of five lives was insufficient rest for the crew – four to five hours during 40 hours at sea, the official investigation concluded.

It also highlighted the fact that the alarm was raised using the personal mobile of Kevin Kershaw, who was out fishing for the first time with the crew.

He is described as "a visitor" on board in the report, which says the trawler was carrying more crew than it was certified to carry. The Tit Bonhomme was certified to carry five crew and did not have sufficient lifesaving appliances for all of those on board.

The five fishermen who died on January 15 last year were skipper Michael Hayes (52), Mr Kershaw (21) and three Egyptians, Wael Mohamad (32), Shaban Attia (26) and Saied aly Eldin (24).

One member of the crew survived, Egyptian Abdelbaky Abdelgawad Mohamed, a strong swimmer who was wearing a lifejacket when rescued.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) noted: "The single overriding causal factor is considered to be insufficient rest for the crew.

"In the 40 hours between departing Union Hall and the grounding, all crew appear to have had at most four to five hours' sleep."

Irish Independent