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Saturday 16 December 2017

Tragic wreck fisherman tells of fight for survival

Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

THE sole survivor of a sea tragedy has spoken for the first time about his battle for life after his fishing boat sank.

Egyptian crewman Abdul Mohammed (43) was on board the Tit Bonhomme trawler when it sank off the Cork coast after hitting rocks last January with the loss of five men.

Abdul's horrific story will be part of a new television show starting on RTE One this Sunday.

'Ireland's Search and Rescue' will take viewers behind the scenes of some of the most amazing rescues in Ireland over a 12-month period.

One of the most devastating stories is that of Abdul, a father of three, and how he lost his brother Wael when the Tit Bonhomme sank.

"I wake up when we crashed on the rocks," he said.

"Everybody went to the wheel house on the bridge, the boat rolling. Somebody shout to close the door, and I closed it because I was near to the door.

"About a minute later, there was a shout to open the door."


In just a few seconds, the water rushed in and Abdul was washed overboard and broke his collar bone.

"I swam for maybe two hours. I was fighting for my life. If you're fighting for your life, what do you do?"

The fisherman tells of his horror at losing his brother to the sea and how his grief for his shipmates will never leave him.

A 26-day rescue and recovery operation was launched and the bodies of Kevin Kershaw, Attia Shaban, Wael Mohammed, Saied Ali Eldin and skipper Michael Hayes were recovered.

The series used never-before-seen footage of the rescue operation and underwater footage from naval divers searching the wreckage for the bodies.

The show will feature extraordinary footage of the moment Abdul was plucked from death by the crew of coastguard helicopter Rescue 117.

According to his rescuers the Egyptian native was close to death when he was winched aboard the helicopter.

The series follows the emergency services with the help of 100 cameras supplied to rescue crews over a year.

The cameras were attached to helmets and cockpits of helicopters and other rescue craft.

The first programme deals with, among other operations, the multi-agency operation of one of the largest missions ever mounted in Ireland.

Other rescues featured show the world of a cliff top rescue, a drowning Filipino sailor, and a mountain top operation to save a fallen climber.

The programme is presented by Claire Byrne and will be screened on RTE One at 6.30pm on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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