27 May 2005

Bad weather prevents hi-tech attempt to see wreck and crew

Stormy seas prevented new technology from being used on Thursday to photograph the bodies of 14 fishermen who disappeared into a watery grave on May 8 on the Sardinia Bay coast.

Trawler captain Paul Landers and a crewman, Johan Ehlers, survived.

Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe announced on Tuesday that the exact location had been pinpointed of the Lindsay, a trawler that sank after colliding with a giant carrier, the Ouro do Brasil.

The trawler had been located by the South African hydrographic survey ship, the SAS Protea.

Apparently the Lindsay is lying about nine nautical miles from Sardinia Bay at a depth of 105m.

Radebe's spokesperson, Collen Msibi, said a team from the South African Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT) arrived in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday with the intention of taking underwater pictures of the Lindsay.

The IMT intends sending a remote-controlled vessel down to the seabed that will then find its way to the wreckage to take photographs.

Investigator has 99% of information he needs
According to Msibi, rough seas kept the operation from going ahead on Thursday and further attempts would be made on Friday.

Captain Nigel Campbell, senior marine inspector with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) and who is heading the investigation after the tragedy, said on Thursday he already had collected 99% of the information he needed.

Campbell said: "I'm only waiting for one more piece of the jigsaw puzzle, and thereafter events of that evening will start forming a picture."

He confirmed that no set date could be provided for the finalisation of the investigation.

According to navy spokesperson Commander Brian Stockton, they had not yet been approached to assist with the recovery of the fishermen's bodies, but would consider doing so if asked to help.

Cindy Preller reports that a resident commercial diver, Johan Liebenberg, believes the technology is available to reach the bodies and that underwater robots can be hired to recover the entire ship. But, the technology is very expensive.

Meanwhile Die Burger has learned on good authority that the depth at which the Lindsay is lying makes it virtually impossible to recover the bodies.

Hoping to be able to bury them
On Thursday morning, Ian Grey, commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Port Elizabeth, said there was always a possibility that the victims' bodies could be recovered.

Grey confirmed that pictures of the wreck would be invaluable in helping to determine any dangers that might be encountered in the recovery process.

Wilna Josephs, who lost her father, George, her brother, Randall, and uncle, Henry Prinsloo, said all the families were hoping the pictures would bring good news.

"Last week, we were going to throw wreaths on the water, but now we are waiting in hope that we will still be able to bury them."

Source: www.news24.com


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