Body of final crew member of trawler found

 

THE BODY of the fifth and final member of the crew of the sunken trawler Tit Bonhomme was recovered from the sea in Glandore Bay in west Cork yesterday.

After a 26-day search, the body of Egyptian Said Aly Eldin (23) was found floating on the surface of the sea on the western side of Glandore Bay, some 50 metres off Long Point and about 1.5km from where the Tit Bonhomme sank near Adam’s Island.

The trawler sank on the morning of January 15th last with skipper Michael Hayes (52) and fellow crewmen, Attea Shaban (26), Kevin Kershaw (21), Wael Mohammed (35) and Said Aly Eldin all perishing in the tragedy.

Just one crew member, Wael Mohammed’s brother Abdul (42), survived and over the past four weeks, a massive search operation was mounted involving the Naval Service, gardaí, Irish Coast Guard, Civil Defence, the RNLI and hundreds of volunteers.

The bodies of Attea Shaban, Kevin Kershaw and Wael Mohammed were recovered in the first week and although the official search was scaled back last Sunday, hopes were raised last Wednesday when the body of Michael Hayes was found.

Said Aly Eldin’s body was recovered at about 1.15pm yesterday by a group of four searchers in a BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mhara) Rib: civilian diver John Kearney, Karl Wycherly and Eamon Barry of Galley Head Coast Guard, and helmsman Bob Cooke of BIM.

“I spotted an object on the surface and I said, ‘Lads, that’s the last casualty’,” said Mr Kearney.

“We were about 50 metres from him at the time. It was absolutely so rewarding that we managed to complete our task and recover the last casualty after all the early mornings and long days of searching.”

The body of Mr Eldin was taken back to the pier at Union Hall where his father, Mohammed Aly Eldin, and other relatives had a chance to grieve for him at the temporary mortuary.

Egyptian Said Mohamed Ibrahim Aly Aldin led about 30 of his fellow countrymen in prayer as they turned east and looked towards Mecca while locals looked on in respectful silence before Christian prayers were said.

There were emotional scenes as Irish and Egyptians followed the the hearse from the quayside with people hugging and embracing as the remains left for Cork University Hospital where a post- mortem is to be carried out today.

Fisherman Bill Deasy, a driving force behind the volunteer search operation, spoke of his relief.

“I feel sad for the families but I feel elated we were able to recover all the bodies. It was a magnificent achievement by all the agencies and all the locals combined. There was just no way we could leave bodies out in that harbour.”

Harbour master John Minihane spoke of the strong bonds made. “Some of those lost were Egyptian, some were Irish but if you fish the sea, you’re all part of the same family. We’re all the same, we’re one fishing family and we brought them home.”