Crew in Western Isles fishing boat tragedy '˜tried to swim'

THE FOUR crew members of the fishing boat which sank off the Western Isles of Scotland made it to their life raft but only one survived, according to a senior fishermen's charity figure.
A lifeboat and helicopter remain at the scene. Picture: John DevlinA lifeboat and helicopter remain at the scene. Picture: John Devlin
A lifeboat and helicopter remain at the scene. Picture: John Devlin

Two bodies were found after the Louisa sank early on Saturday morning, and one man remains missing.

Another crew member was airlifted to hospital and was said to have escaped serious injury.

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Finlay Macleod, superintendent at the Fisherman’s Mission in Stornoway, said all four of the men made it to the life raft.

He said: “They were all being supported by the life raft as the vessel sank but the water was too cold and two crew members reached the conclusion that if they had stayed with the life raft, as they are taught to do, then hypothermia would have set in.

“They saw the shore and they thought they could try for it. Sadly only one reached it.

“Everybody’s really traumatised. It’s an absolute tragedy.

“On behalf of the mission I’ve been in touch with all the families concerned in Lewis and Harris. My colleague in Scrabster has been in contact with the family of the crewman in Thurso who didn’t survive. We’re reaching out to them.”

The Coastguard received a distress alert just before 3.45am on Saturday, and the Stornoway-registered crabber’s emergency positioning beacon was activated near Mingulay.

Following the discovery of the bodies an air and sea search for the remaining missing man was scaled back and the Barra Lifeboat stood down shortly before 6.30pm.

Tributes to the crew have been posted online.

Clyde Fisherman’s Association (CFA) wrote: “On behalf of all of the CFA our thoughts are with the crew, family & friends of the Louisa. RIP to those brave men who lost their lives.”

Mark Rodaway, UK Coastguard national maritime operations commander said: “Despite an intensive search including the helicopters, lifeboat and other fishing vessels in the area, we have been unable to locate the missing fisherman. Our thoughts are with all those involved”

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Chief Inspector Alastair Garrow said: “At this time we can confirm that the bodies of two men have been recovered. A third man was rescued and was taken to hospital at Stornoway. He is not seriously injured.

“A fourth man was on the boat and is still missing. The next of kin of all the men have been informed.

“This has been a tragic incident which will impact on the local community. Our thoughts are with the families affected.”

Police Scotland and the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch will carry out a joint investigation into the incident and report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.

A Maritime & Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said the vessel went down with the four crew on board in relatively calm weather conditions.