The bodies of two missing fishermen who had to abandon their stricken trawler were recovered but then lost to the ocean, a Viking Fishing director confirmed on Monday.
“We have two confirmed losses. As the bodies were being recovered, two slipped out of their lifejackets into the ocean,” financial director Rory Williams told News24.
He said the search was on for a third fisherman.
“Realistically, I suppose he is presumed drowned.”
The company said its fishing vessel, the MFV Lincoln, was apparently swamped by heavy seas around 18:00 on Sunday.
It immediately sent out a mayday call.
The 21-man crew then abandoned the ship. At that time, the vessel was about 30 nautical miles south of Hermanus.
Williams said it was believed the crew had to abandon ship because it had turned onto its side. This was based on an assessment of the swamping and damage to the vessel.
Families called in
Nine fishermen died and nine were rescued, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon said.
Most of the crew were from the Western Cape.
A large contingent came from the Wellington area, said Williams.
Their families were brought to the company in Cape Town early on Monday morning and given an update, with counsellors present.
“The difficult part is that we don’t know whose bodies were recovered and will only know that later in the week,” Williams said.
Various vessels recovered the bodies. Some had been taken ashore at Hermanus and Simon’s Town, while two bodies were still aboard vessels at sea.
A sister ship was towing the vessel to the Port of Cape Town.
Williams said it suffered external damage but was otherwise stable.
“We believe it was swamped by freak seas. One can just see that by the force of water that came over the vessel, it has torn away some deck equipment.” News24