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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 16:02 GMT
Bid to salvage capsized trawler
The capsized fishing vessel
A merchant ship spotted the fishing boat 11 miles off Beachy Head
An operation is under way to salvage a trawler which capsized off Beachy Head, East Sussex, killing three Belgian men.

The Zeebrugge-registered Noordster Z122 overturned on Tuesday afternoon after snagging its nets, although the alarm was not raised until the next morning.

The bodies of Patrick Gustave Geryl and Geert Charles Alice Meyers, both 41, were recovered on Wednesday, while the body of the third man sank.

A fourth man, the 19-year-old nephew of the boat's captain, was rescued.

Hendrik Vlietinck was spotted by coastguards clinging to the upturned hull of the vessel after spending 15 hours waiting to be rescued.

Hendrik Vlietinck
Hendrik Vlietinck was treated for shock and hypothermia

He was taken to hospital suffering from shock and hypothermia but was released later on Wednesday, and spent the night in the care of the Fishermen's Mission, in Newhaven.

Spokesman Ian Farrow said: "It was a miracle that he was rescued."

All the fishing boat crew worked for the same family-run firm which owned the trawler.

Post-mortem examinations on the dead fishermen were due to take place on Thursday.

The operation to salvage the vessel is being undertaken by two support ships.

Toby Stone, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said it would involve pumping it full of air to prevent it from sinking, and then actually lifting it from the sea onto a barge.

"It's a relatively simple operation if it all goes to plan, but the weather is forecast to get a lot worse - gales are forecast for tomorrow so speed is of the essence," he said.


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