09 December 2005

Ireland: Search resumes for missing scuba diver

The Irish Coastguard has resumed its search for a diver who went missing while looking for the skipper of a sunken fishing boat.

Billy O'Connor, 49, from New Ross, was one of two experienced divers who dived to 50m to ascertain if a wreck located off County Wexford was that of the fishing boat Rising Sun, which sank on Tuesday.

The divers organised an underwater search on Wednesday, following a major air and sea search. Although the captain of the fishing vessel Patrick Colfer, 37, was not found, two other men on board were rescued about seven hours later by local fishermen.

O'Connor's buddy lost contact with him at 7m while they were both ascending from the wreck on Thursday. His buddy confirmed that the wreck off the Great Saltee Island was the Rising Sun and that the body of Colfer was not inside.

"The dive that took place yesterday tragically was not part of the search and rescue operation, and indeed was advised against," said Eamonn Torpay, search and rescue manager at the Irish Coastguard. "We are not in a position to say what happened because that will be part of the investigation.

"Weather conditions were not good yesterday [Thursday 1 December]. Our incident manager advised it would inadvisable to search and the naval service were not in a position to search because of the conditions."

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has launched a full investigation. According to reports, the fishing crew on the Rising Sun was pulling in lobster pots when it went down.

Source: www.divemagazine.co.uk/news


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