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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Answers sought on trawler tragedy
by Jonathan Morris
BBC News Online South West

Bugaled Breizh
The Bugaled Breizh was raised from the seabed on Saturday
Mystery continues to surround the sinking of a French trawler with the loss of five lives, six months after the tragedy.

The Bugaled Breizh has been raised from the seabed off the Lizard, Cornwall, where it sank on 15 January.

The 23m (72ft) Bugaled Breizh, which means "child of Brittany" in Breton, was based at the small port of Loctudy.

However, it was a well-known visitor to Newlyn in Cornwall, where it had been sheltering from bad weather.

The weather had abated and although it was misty, the sea was calm when the last words of the mate of the vessel were heard soon before lunchtime on the day of the tragedy.

"Come quickly. We are sinking."

The words were heard by the crew of Eridan, another French trawler, which suggests that the sinking happened without any warning.

Emergency beacon

Coastguard operations manager Simon Rabett told BBC News Online: "They were speaking on a common frequency, shared by other trawlers.

Bugaled Breizh
The Bugaled Breizh was a regular visitor to Cornwall
"It must have happened very quickly because he did not have time to get on an emergency frequency and speak to us."

The first the coastguards heard about the incident was at 1238GMT when an automatic emergency beacon was triggered, about seven minutes before they were called by the Eridan.

The Bugaled Breizh did have time to give the Eridan its co-ordinates and a full scale emergency rescue operation was launched.

Helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RAF Chivenor were supported by vessels including lifeboats from Penlee and the Lizard, and a Dutch submarine.

They soon found the bodies of skipper Yves Gloaguen, 45, from Finisterre, and Pascal le Floch, 49, from Morbihan.

The body of Patrick Gloaguen, 35, from western Finisterre, was found by salvage divers on Saturday.

The two others on board were Eric Guillamet, 42, and Georges Le Metayer, 50, also from western Finisterre, where the community is urgently calling for answers.

Ruled out

The families of the dead men believe the trawler went down when it was hit by another vessel, and are unhappy with the secrecy that has surrounded the investigation by the French authorities.

It's impossible to say what happened at the moment
Simon Rabett
Initially French authorities seized on speculation that the boat had been sunk in a hit-and-run collision with a freighter.

Pictures of the hull taken by a remote camera appeared to back this up and in March, French police officers, accompanied by Chinese police, examined the Philippine-flagged Seattle Trader freighter which was suspected of a possible role in the sinking of the trawler.

However, an examination, in southern China, of the freighter's paint-work subsequently ruled it out of the investigation.

There has also been speculation that the trawler was the victim of an international naval exercise in the area at the time.

At the time, four submarines, and two warships from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany were in the area for the Aswex04 anti-submarine exercise, run by British naval authorities.

French and British officials have rejected suggestions that the trawler was dragged underwater by a submarine caught in its nets.

Mr Rabett, said: "It's impossible to say what happened at the moment. It's all speculation, but there was apparently no breach of the hull so the initial assumptions have been thrown into the air."

Now the trawler has been lifted from the seabed, French investigators will be able to scour the wreck for clues after she is transported by barge from Falmouth to a military base in the Breton port of Brest.




SEE ALSO:
Third body recovered from trawler
11 Jul 04 |  Cornwall
Weather halts salvage operation
07 Jul 04 |  Cornwall
Cable snaps in salvage operation
30 Jun 04 |  Cornwall
Salvage team set to lift trawler
28 Jun 04 |  Cornwall
Trawler deaths probe criticised
21 May 04 |  Cornwall
French trawler 'was rammed hard'
19 Jan 04 |  Cornwall


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