Closure for some as bodies recovered but search goes on for 3 still missing

AS closure came for some of those waiting on the quays for five long days, the anguish went on for others.

Two bodies were recovered, but three are still missing, including that of skipper Michael Hayes, a father of five: Lia, Ealga, Miceal, Ferdia and Dearbhla.

As the second body, that of young student Kevin Kershaw, was brought ashore from the site of the wreck at Adam Island in Glandore Bay, Egyptian men knelt in a portable building facing the sea and prayed. Outside, the Irish said their prayers beside a memorial set up on the pier side with candles and photos.

Just a few hours earlier, the body of Attia Shaban, the first crew member of the stricken Tit Bonhomme to be discovered, was brought ashore on a navy rib. It was taken into the makeshift morgue and identified by friends who had lived with him in West Cork. It is understood Attia’s mother passed away last Saturday without knowing her son had died.

The Egyptian, from Borg Megheizel near Rosetta, had recently become engaged. Friends said he was a very good man who was popular with everyone. They said someone would accompany his body home with the help of the Egyptian embassy.

The sole survivor of the tragedy, Abdo Mohamad — whose brother Wael is among those still missing — became agitated as he waited to see the body and was visibly distressed as he left the makeshift morgue.

The body was placed in an awaiting coffin and hearse and as it prepared to leave the quay the Egyptian men, led by their Iman, lined up to pray. Many broke down at the sight of the body leaving and all the men followed the hearse out of the quay.

Similar emotional scenes followed when Kevin Kershaw’s family made the identification and followed the hearse to the top of the road as it left for Cork University Hospital.

Bodies of missing fishermen Kevin Kershaw and Shaban Attia are recovered

Video by Dan Linehan

Coastguard co-ordinator Gerard O’Flynn said finding the bodies outside the vessel was important.

“As I have been saying, the dive on the wreck is not the be-all and the end-all, and this had confirmed that. We just don’t want people putting their hopes on one thing. There was evidence to dive in that area so we did that but we just don’t know, the bodies could have washed in there this morning, this is all speculative.

“This is an area which is very close to the vessel which divers had been concentrating on due to the large amount of debris which had been observed there.

“Particular items closely associated with the boat were found in this area on Wednesday evening and that was where divers had been searching late on Wednesday and went in there again first thing and that resulted in the recovery of the body.”

Mr O’Flynn thanked the public for their help but respectfully asked that extra people not turn up at the weekend as it was causing congestion.

“The response has been phenomenal but we cannot cope with any more. We have all the volunteers we need at this time.”

Fr Pierce Cormac and a Garda liaison officer remained with the families at all times.

Fr Cormac said: “It was very tough to see the bodies, but of course there was a sense of relief that they had been found. It gives hope to the others that they will all be found.”

Fr Cormac, a chaplain at the Mercy Hospital in Cork who is on hand at the quayside each day, said it was important to try to keep up the spirits of the families, but expressed concern that the incident was having an impact on local children.

“The children are very upset over this. A lot of them have family who fish and they are confused. We are linking up with school psychological support to see how best we can deal with it.

“The wives and sisters and all the women here who are doing such a great job with the catering are often visibly upset by what’s going on as they know it could be them in that position.”

It is understood that the bodies were in remarkably good conditions despite being in the sea for five days.

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