A FISHERMAN who was lost overboard from a trawler off the south-west coast at the weekend is feared drowned.
The Egyptian national, who is in his mid 30s and who had married an Irish woman recently and settled in Skibbereen, was one of three men on board the 22-metre Union Hall-based trawler, Janireh, which was hauling its nets 15km south/south-west of the Fastnet Rock at around 1.45am on Saturday.
It was not clear last night why he fell overboard. But as the vessel’s owners, Christopher and Denis Deasy, turned the boat to stern in a bid to rescue him from the water, their nets became caught in its propellers, rendering it powerless. They threw him a lifebouy but he slipped below the surface.
The casualty was wearing yellow oilskins but, like most fishermen, was not wearing a flotation device.
Although sea and weather conditions were calm, the expected survival time in the water is about two hours.
A mayday call was issued and Valentia Coast Guard alerted Baltimore lifeboat at 1.45am. It responded with its inshore and all-weather vessels.
The LÉ Emer, which was on coastal patrol off the south-east coast, was also tasked to act as the on-scene coordinator. She arrived on scene at about 8am and coordinated a massive search, involving the Coast Guard’s Waterford-based rescue helicopter, the Baltimore and Castletownbere lifeboats, and five local fishing vessels.
Baltimore’s all-weather craft put crew men on board the stricken Janireh, helped free its fouled gear, and took it in tow to Baltimore where it arrived at 1pm.
The Deasys, who are well respected in the fishing industry, are said to be devastated by the accident.
The search resumed at first light yesterday morning and was extended to cover a 381-square mile area.
The Aer Corps’ Baldonnel-based fixed-wing Casa aircraft also joined the operation.
Officials at the Valentia Coast Guard station are using a special computer programme on tides, currents and wind drift, to plot the search grid.
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