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Wife hopes for return of skipper as third body recovered

THE wife of missing trawler skipper Michael Hayes said yesterday's discovery of the body of a third fisherman has given her renewed hope her husband will be found.

Speaking just minutes after the remains of Egyptian crewman Wael Mohamad (32) were removed from Union Hall pier in west Cork, mother-of-five Caitlin Hayes said she hopes the sea will soon give up her husband's body.

"I feel even if it's not (found) today, it's going to be tomorrow. I feel very hopeful today," said Mrs Hayes.

The Tit Bonhomme skipper and Egyptian crewman Saied aly Eldin (24) are still missing from the 21m vessel which sank on January 15 after striking rocks off Adam Island at Glandore Bay.

The bodies of Kevin Kershaw (21) and Shaban Attia (26) were recovered last Thursday.

Mrs Hayes -- who has lobbied on behalf of Irish fishermen -- said she wanted to convey her deep appreciation to people for their support and prayers.

"I want to thank all who have given up their time, resources and energy, especially all of those who have been in this position before and never found their loved ones, but yet were able to send their messages of support here," she told the Irish Independent.

She also praised the people of Union Hall whose support, she said, had gone beyond anything that any of the families could have ever imagined.

Mrs Hayes admitted the past eight days have been very tough for her children Lia, Ealga, Micheal, Ferdia and Dearbhaile.

There were emotional scenes at Union Hall pier at lunchtime yesterday as 40 members of the Egyptian community gathered for prayers before Mr Mohamad's body was removed to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Friends tried to comfort Mr Mohamad's distraught older brother, Abdou (40), who was the only survivor of the tragedy.

Mr Mohamad's cousin, Morad Gharib, said they were "heartbroken but relieved" that his body was finally recovered after eight days of exhaustive searches.

"We hope and pray that the other two bodies are now found too," he said.

Last December Wael Mohamad celebrated the birth of his first son -- and his brother has pledged to look after his two children as well as his own three back in Egypt.

His body was discovered by a team of local divers just before 10am less than 100m from the wreck.

The divers, Aodh O'Donnell, Eamon Barry, Pat O'Driscoll and John Kearney, did a pre-planned dive in consultation with the Naval Service and garda dive teams.

Mr O'Donnell said there was "a certain amount of relief" at finding the body.

"It's awful ... but fantastic. That's what we're out for so it's a job to be done," he told the Irish Independent.

He said it was lying in a rock gulley at a depth of seven metres a short distance from where the bodies of Mr Kershaw and Mr aly Eldin were found.

Irish Independent