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Trawler families 'overwhelmed' by response to plea for more searchers



THE families of two missing fishermen say they have been "overwhelmed" by the response to a plea for experienced divers and kayakers to support the search.

The next 48 hours are critical in the recovery operation for the two men still missing following the Tit Bonhomme trawler tragedy, skipper and father of five Michael Hayes (52) and Egyptian Saied aly Eldin (24).

The plea for help came as Irish Coast Guard, Naval Service, Garda and Civil Defence teams continue searching for the two men.

A decision on the status of the operation will be made next week, when it is expected be phased down.

But Mr Hayes's wife, Caitlin, said yesterday the families believed both bodies were in Glandore Bay in west Cork -- and that the search would continue until they were found.

"We do feel confident that Michael and Saied are both still within the harbour," she told the Irish Independent.

"Because of where the accident happened, we believe the bodies are still here. That's why we are still hoping that this weekend, because of the fine weather, we can get as many experienced divers and kayakers down as possible to trawl the harbour," she said.

The Hayes and Eldin families said they had been overwhelmed by the response -- though officials stressed that only experienced divers and kayakers should participate.

Mohammed Ibrahim Eldin -- who is also a fisherman -- has taken part in the search for his son during the past two weeks.

The plea for support brought responses from diving and kayaking clubs in Dublin, Louth, Limerick and Galway, who will combine with clubs from Munster that have been involved in the search.

To manage the numbers arriving today, gardai will operate traffic controls in the Rosscarbery and Leap areas. Weather conditions, which have severely hampered diving operations, are expected to improve this weekend. Officials said the next 48-72 hours would be crucial.

They want to continue searching deep rock pools around the wreck site -- these yielded the three bodies already found.

The two Egyptian fishermen whose bodies were recovered last week were buried in their native village outside Alexandria yesterday

Shabban Attia (26) and Wael Mohamad (32) were buried near the village of Borg el Meghezel.

Only one of the Tit Bonhomme crew -- Egyptian Abdou Mohamad (40) -- survived when the trawler struck rocks off Adam Island on January 15 as it ran to port ahead of a storm.

The bodies of Kevin Kershaw (21) and Shabban Attia were found on Thursday of last week and that of Wael Mohamad was recovered on Sunday.

Kevin Kershaw was buried in his native Dublin on Thursday.

Irish Independent