Belfast Telegraph

Donegal drowning tragedy victims had been rescued before

By Paddy Clancy and Laura Lynott

Two men who died after they got into difficulty fishing in "notorious" waters had been rescued by the coastguard in the same area just four weeks ago.

The bodies of the Lithuanian nationals were recovered yesterday following a search off the coast of Glencolmcille in the west of Co Donegal.

The weekend tragedy happened after a 56-year-old married man and his 40-year-old friend sailed from Teelin Pier on Saturday. The alarm was raised by locals after the two men did not return to the pier.

The 56-year-old man was last night named locally as Rimantis Barauskas, who lived in Oldcastle, Co Meath. It is understood he was a regular visitor to Donegal. His companion lived in Longford. Mr Barauskas' body was discovered by a farmer washed up on the rocks at Malinbeg around 10.30am yesterday.

The second man's body was later spotted at sea by a Coastguard Rescue helicopter from Sligo and lifted out of the water by the crew of Bundoran Lifeboat.

It has emerged the men were involved in a rescue operation on the same five-metre rigid inflatable boat in the same area just four weeks ago. A source confirmed the two men had run out of fuel near Rathlin O'Birne Island, just off the coast of Malinbeg, a month ago.

"The tail of the boat was hitting the island and they were taken back to shore. They'd run out of fuel," the source said.

It is understood the body washed ashore wasn't wearing a lifejacket but there was one on the second body. There were also two inflatable jackets on the boat.

The bodies were removed to the morgue at Letterkenny University Hospital where a post mortem examination will be conducted today.

Shane McCrudden, Deputy Officer with the Killybegs Coastguard, said rescuers identified the boat as identical to one on which four people were rescued.

He said: "There were four people on the boat the first time. They had run out of fuel and two of them were without lifejackets. We issued a stern warning to them about being cautious at sea."

Mr McCrudden added that the sea became rough on Saturday night.

"Those waters are notorious," he said.

Gardai said the boat was washed ashore on to rocks.

Glencolmcille Parish chairman Brendan Byrne said: "We offer our deepest sympathy to the grieving families."

He added: "It's the most tragic thing we experience in our community. But we must remind people to be careful on the seas in areas they are not familiar with.

"The coastline off Malinbeg and Glencolmcille and around Rathlin O'Birne Island is very dangerous.

"The waters are treacherous. I'm not a seafarer but those that know the sea know there are various currents that converge in this area and the sea is very strong."

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