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LATEST: Deteriorating weather hampering lake search

Friday, 21st March, 2014 3:18pm

LATEST: Deteriorating weather hampering lake search

Worsening weather is hampering the search for an Armagh fisherman who has been missing since yesterday evening on Lough Ree.

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this afternoon, Damien Delaney, Operations Manager with the Lough Ree RNLI lifeboat, said the weather is deteriorating rapidly on the lake, with gale force winds and heavy rain forecast for the west.

“We’re still out looking, searching the surface. The debris trail has been more or less searched at this stage,” he said, adding that all organisations involved in the search will attend a debrief at 6pm to decide where the operation goes from here.

At present, the RNLI crews combing the water surface are being assisted by Civil defence personnel from Longford, several Inland Fisheries boats, Athlone and Lanesboro subaqua clubs, although both of those are expected to come in shortly, and the Garda Underwater Unit.

Efforts to recover the 15-foot Dory boat the men were travelling in when it sank yesterday afternoon close to Yew Point, about a half a mile away from Hodson Bay have as of yet yielded nothing.

Local anglers, who had been helping in the search of the eastern and western shore of the lake since 7.30am, have concluded their part in the operation for today.

This morning, it emerged that one of two men rescued on the lake yesterday afternoon died overnight in hospital. The 27-year-old fisherman, reported to come from Portadown Co Armagh, passed away in hospital after being initially brought to Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe and later transferred to Galway.

DUP Cllr for the Portadown Electoral Area, Darryn Causby tweeted in last two hours:
“Devastating news from Westmeath about fishing trip, community in complete shock, Portadown is a town very much hurting and worried”.

The trio are understood be part of the Portadown Pikers group from Armagh, who got into difficulty when their boat capsized in windy conditions close to Hodson Bay yesterday afternoon. Another Portadown man remains in a critical condition in hospital today.

“Today is a very sad day with a small community affected - personally all I can do is pray,” one of the sponsors of the Portadown Pikers group, Procastangling posted on Facebook earlier today.

The trio are understood be part of a six-strong angling group from Armagh, who were regular visitors to the area. The other three came back after to Hodson Bay yesterday afternoon after the other members had not showed up to a meeting point.

It’s understood the group had intended to go fishing and camping on the lake shoreline.

The alarm was raised by a local man when he witnessed the group setting off for Carnagh in a 15-foot boat yesterday afternoon.  Conditions on the lake were described at the time as gusty with a force five to six wind.  

Lough Ree RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched just after 3.20pm and came upon a man in the water at 4pm.  They recovered the semi-conscious casualty onto the lifeboat and transported him to Hodson Bay where he was handed over to a waiting ambulance.

The lifeboat crew immediately returned to the scene to continue the search and located a second man in the water at 5.15pm.  

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