Prayers and anger on the quayside

THERE were angry and emotional scenes on the quayside in the West Cork fishing village of Union Hall yesterday as a crowd of Egyptian men demanded to know why their ambassador had not come to assist them.

As hopes faded that any of the missing men would be recovered following the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme, sadness turned to anger for the Egyptians.

Naeim Elshamy, who travelled from Dublin to be with his friends, said it was disgraceful that he had arrived before embassy officials.

“The ambassador himself should be here. How many men have to die before he comes? The Irish have done so much for us but our own people in Dublin have just arrived,” he said.

“We just hope they will assist us to bring the men’s bodies home when the time comes. The families back in Egypt just want a body so they can see for themselves and have some closure.”

Paddy Kershaw, father of missing 21-year-old Kevin Kershaw, said it was very difficult to wait with no news and that he understood why the men were so angry.

The trawler Tit Bonhomme at Adam's Island at the mouth of Glandore Bay in West Cork.

A spokesman for the Egyptian consulate said officials had had to prepare before coming to assist the men and that it was not necessary for the ambassador to be there as the consulate was assisting.

The sole survivor of the vessel, which sank after hitting rocks in Glandore Bay at around 6am last Sunday, maintained his vigil at the dock and was visibly shaken, limping and clutching his arm.

Father-of-three Abdo Mohamad, 43, waited for news of his brother, Wael, 32, as did relatives of the vessel’s skipper, father-of-five Michael Hayes, 52. Kevin Kershaw, Saied Aly Eldin, 23, and Attia Shaban, 26, are also among the missing.

The Tit Bonhomme set sail on Friday with Mr Hayes at the helm and the four Egyptian crewmen on board. Mr Hayes had let Kevin Kershaw, a stud-ent living in nearby Clonakilty, come too as he dreamed of becoming a fisherman.

The vessel was making its way home through force 6 or 7 south-easterly winds — rough conditions, but not exceptional — when disaster struck.

Gerard O’Flynn, head of the coastguard operation, said the community of Union Hall had not experienced a tragedy like this before, and that the magnitude of the search was like that seen in Waterford in 2006, when the Maggie B and Honeydew went down.

Mr O’Flynn said divers had been searching all day but that it had not been possible to get to the wreck as it was lodged in a gully between dangerous rocks. He said it was too dangerous to send naval divers down.

The families of the missing men journeyed out to Adam’s Island yesterday, where the top of the wreck could be spotted on the rocks at low tide. Trawlers brought them close and mementoes were dropped into the sea in remembrance of their loved ones.

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