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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 19:09 GMT
Hopes fade for missing fishermen
A piece of wreckage from the ship was washed up on the shore
A piece of wreckage from the ship was washed up on the shore
Hopes are fading for two fishermen, missing after their boat sank near a Northern Ireland port.

Their boat, the Greenhill, crashed onto rocks near Ardglass, County Down on Thursday. Another crew member was found on a liferaft by Portaferry Lifeboat.

The missing men have been named locally as Donal Gibson from Downpatrick and Conor Bogue from Ballynahinch.

Alan Pritchard from the Coastguard said the operation has moved from a search and rescue to a recovery operation.

"With the passage of time and with sea temperatures around eight or nine degrees centigrade the survivability in those conditions is limited," he said.

"I think we have exhausted all our avenues of investigation to try and locate the two crewmen safe and well."

Police have said searches will resume on Saturday morning, but that they had moved from search and rescue to recovery.

Both the missing men are aged in their early 20s and Mr Bogue is the father of two children.

The official search ended after 1700 GMT, but locals are continuing the hunt.

On Friday afternoon police divers confirmed that wreckage off Ardglass harbour was that of the missing vessel.

Search boats off Ardglass
A huge search took place to find the missing men

The rescued man, thought to have been the skipper of the boat, was treated for hypothermia. He has since been discharged from the Down Hospital in Downpatrick.

Simon Rogers from Portaferry lifeboat said when they picked up the survivor on Thursday night his first concern was to let rescuers know he had not been alone.

"He was a very lucky man to be alive, I don't know who was more happy - him to see us or us to see him," he said.

The fisheries protection vessel, the Ken Vickers, which has specialised sonar searching equipment on board, is also due to survey the remains of the Greenhill.

The boat hit the rocks near the County Down fishing port at about 2000 GMT on Thursday.

The alarm was raised when the Greenhill's distress beacon was activated and the signal was picked up by the coastguard.

Simon Rogers
Simon Rogers of Portaferry Lifeboat helped rescue the survivor

A major air, sea and land operation, involving more than 700 people, got under way early on Friday morning, on coastline about a mile north of Ardglass.

Police and coastguard helicopters were involved and teams of people, led by the emergency services, checked the rocky headland on foot for any sign of the missing men. Seven fishing boats also joined in the search.

Alex Slater of the Fishermen's Mission said it was a difficult time for the families, but they were grateful for the support from the community.

"The families were pretty traumatised yesterday," he said.

"The fishing community from all parts of Ireland rally round when they hear there is a fisherman in trouble and a family in trouble, and they are all praying for the family and caring for the family at this moment in time."

Local fisherman Brian Feenan took his boat out to help on Thursday evening.

"It was not a very nice night, the wind got up," he said.

"There was too strong a sea. You had men on the boats standing looking out trying to see if they could see anything. You have got to think of their lives too."


SEE ALSO:
Divers head to fishing boat wreck
20 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland
Family heartache over son
12 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Wait has been 'living nightmare'
12 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Search for fisherman called off
11 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland


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