Investigation in Belgian fishermen’s deaths
15 December 2005
BRUSSELS — The British government has launched an investigation into the death of three Belgian fishermen after their boat capsized on Tuesday night.
The accident took place some 25km off the British coast at Beachy Head, but the alarm was not raised until Wednesday morning when the crew of a passing container ship spotted the stricken boat.
A 21-year-old crew member of the 24m Zeebrugge boat was pulled to safety after spending 12 to 15 hours in freezing waters.
Hendriek V., 19, of Zeebrugge, was taken to hospital in Eastbourne suffering from hypothermia and was given the services of a Flemish interpreter.
However, British coast guard authorities quickly recovered the bodies on Wednesday of crew members of Geert M., 41, of Oostende and Patrick G., 36, of Nieuwpoort.
Initially, it was hoped that the captain, Tom V., 35, could be saved. His nephew, Hendriek, said he heard knocking from the boat underneath him while he was clinging to its hull.
Rescue workers also confirmed his account and said they had not ruled out the possibility that Tom V. had survived for some time in an air bubble under the capsized boat.
As darkness closed in on Wednesday night, rescue efforts were abandoned and a spokeswoman for the Maritime Coastguard Agency in Britain said Tom was briefly seen before he disappeared again under the water.
The cause of the accident is not yet known, but shipping chaplain Dirk Demaeghdt suspects the boat’s nets became entangled on a submerged object.
The British investigation into the incident will be led by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
Inquiries will focus on why the boat’s life raft was not used and why the ship’s safety mechanism did not automatically send out an alarm signal.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news