Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cork trawler tragedy: 'Ship's crew 'trapped in wreck', says father as search goes on

Trawlers and small boats search the shoreline at Union Hall in West Cork as the search continues for five people who went missing after the Tit Bonhomme trawler struck rocks at the mouth of the harbour in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Rescue personnel on the pier at Union Hall in west Cork, after five people went missing after the Tit Bonhomme trawler struck rocks at the mouth of the harbour in the early hours of this morning.

The father of the youngest victim of the 'Tit Bonhomme' trawler tragedy has said he believes the crew were asleep in their bunks when it disastrously struck rocks as it fled from a storm.

Paddy Kershaw -- whose eldest son Kevin (21) is one of five missing fishermen -- said he was also convinced that the bodies were trapped in the hull.

The father of six said he was sceptical that the missing fishermen had life jackets on when the 21m vessel was wrecked after striking Adam Island off Glandore Bay at 5.50am last Sunday.

Mr Kershaw said his belief was that the men were in the cabin.

"I believe the lads were in their beds," he said yesterday.

Mr Kershaw also said one media report of the entire crew linking hands in the wheelhouse "doesn't make any sense".

"If the bodies are in the hull -- as I believe they are -- that will speak for itself," he said.

Rescue officials are trying to get divers on to the 'Tit Bonhomme' to determine if the bodies are trapped in the wreckage.

Families expressed frustration yesterday after Naval Service and garda divers were, for the third day, unable to operate on the wreck because of dangerous sea conditions off west Cork.

Sea conditions are expected to deteriorate tomorrow, with divers likely to have only a 10-hour window today to gain access to the wreck.

Worsening weather conditions could delay operations on the wreck for up to a week. Diving operations to date have been complicated by heavy seas and the fact the wreck is shrouded in nets and debris.

A huge search operation will resume again today for the five missing crewmen, including skipper and father of five, Michael Hayes (52), Kevin Kershaw (21) and three Egyptians, Wael Mohamad (32), Saied aly Eldin (24) and Shaban Attia (26).

The only survivor, Abdou Mohamad (40), again spent the day at Union Hall pier to support rescue services and the families of his missing crewmates. His younger brother, Wael, is one of the missing crew.

Frustration

The Naval Service said it understood the frustration of the families but conditions were simply too dangerous to allow divers operate on the wreck.

However, divers did conduct operations away from the wreck where large quantities of debris were found.

"Conditions in the immediate vicinity of the vessel remain particularly treacherous; only the naval and garda dive teams with their extensive support should dive the 'Tit Bonhomme'.

"We do not want to compound this tragedy with a further tragedy," a naval spokes- person said.

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