Search to resume this morning for two fishermen

 

THE search is to resume at first light today for the two fishermen still missing from the 40 foot fishing boat, Jenalisa, off Dunmore East, Co Waterford.

The boat's life raft was found at 11 a.m. yesterday east of Brownstown Head during an extensive search in heavy weather, co ordinated by the Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES). Some debris from the vessel, including fish boxes, was also recovered.

The body of one of the three crew, Mr Conor O'Grady, from Annestown, Co Waterford, was recovered on Sunday, wearing a flotation suit. An oil slick was also reported three miles south of Brownstown Head in Tramore Bay.

However, there was no trace yesterday of Mr O'Grady's two colleagues, the skipper/owner, Mr Peter Nolan (42), and Mr Niall Power (25), both of Dunmore East, and no sign of the vessel. Divers from the Naval Service and the Garda sub aqua team are to search the area today, weather permitting, as part of the extensive sea and shore effort.

Some 60 fishing vessels yesterday joined in the search, which began in heavy weather, along with the Air Corps fishery patrol plane and helicopter, the naval patrol ship, LE Aisling, the Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay lifeboats, and four coast and cliff rescue units from Tramore, Kilmore Quay, Fethard and Dunmore East.

As part of the operation the trawlers and the LE Aisllng carried out a sonar search of the area, but the rugged underwater terrain made it difficult to spot the vessel. Hopes were fading last night for the men's survival.

The Jenalisa, which is a gill netter, was a well maintained steel vessel built in 1983, and the skipper/owner had recently bought flotation suits for the crew.

It left Dunmore East on Sunday morning to haul some gill nets which had been shot earlier, and was reported to be loaded with 40 boxes of dogfish on last contact.

Mr Tom Fewer, manager of the Dunmore East Fishermen's Co op, said, the speed with which the vessel disappeared was a complete mystery, the body of a Connemara fisherman, Mr Jimmy McDonagh (30), was discovered in the sea close to shore at inner Roundstone Bay, Co Galway, at lunchtime yesterday. The discovery was made by a local boatman - who was involved in a three day search mounted by local people and rescue services.

Mr McDonagh, who was single and lived with his parents at Letterdyse, was last seen at Roundstone pier late on Friday before he set off for home in his currach with outboard engine, a distance of about half a mile. He travelled regularly by boat between his home and Roundstone.

The undamaged currach with the engine in gear was found drifting near his home on Saturday afternoon. His body was removed to University College Hospital Galway, where a post mortem was to be carried out last night.

An investigation into the Jenalisa accident has been ordered by the Minister for the Marine, Mr Barrett, who attended the private wreath laying ceremony off Donegal yesterday on the LE Eithne for the six crew from the Greencastle vessel Carrickatine, missing since last November.

"I am deeply saddened by the number of tragedies involving fishing vessels," Mr Barrett said, expressing sympathy with the families of the Jenalisa crew. "This cycle of tragedy must be stopped."

The Minister said he was already committed to the "most thorough and wide ranging examination ever" of the safety of the Irish fishing fleet, through a review group which was established in January.

The move followed the Carrickatine accident and criticism of previous ministers' inaction in relation to the alarming age profile of boats in the Irish whitefish fleet. Safety measures on board vessels are also being examined by the Health and Safety Authority.

In Cork, the relatives of 10 Spanish fishermen missing since early January have requested assistance from the Irish government to search for the vessel.

The crew of the Carreira, from Pasajes near San Sebastian, were last heard of on January 6th, when their vessel was believed to be heading for French fishing grounds.

A search by French, British and Spanish air/sea rescue services yielded nothing, but fish boxes believed to belong to the vessel were reported found off Bunmahon, Co Waterford, last week.

The Department of the Marine said yesterday it had assisted the Marine Rescue Co ordination Centre (MRCC) in Spain in the initial search for the Carreira and would consider the request.