Body believed to have been found in search for missing fisherman off Wexford coast

The trawler Alize which sank off Hook Head on January 4

It is believed a body has been found in the search for missing fisherman William “Willie” Whelan off the Wexford coast.

Mr Whelan, 41, from Saltmills, Co Wexford, disappeared when his trawler, the Alize, a 11.7 metre steel-hulled vessel, sank off Hook Head on January 4 at around 10.45pm.

A body was believed to have been found at 11.30am today by Hook Sub Aqua divers inside his boat, but it will not be removed for up to 48 hours due to the complexity of the operation.

A second fisherman - Joe Sinnott, 65, from Kilmore Quay - died in hospital after being rescued and was laid to rest last week.

The two men were close friends as well as work colleagues.

Both men had impeccable safety records around trawlers and when out fishing.

The emergency services were alerted to the vessel being in trouble when the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was activated.

The emergency beacon is activated once a vessel goes underwater.

At the scene of the search today where the fishing vessel sank. Pic: Patrick Browne
At the scene of the search today where the fishing vessel sank. Pic: Patrick Browne

Fr Michael Doyle, hospital chaplain at Wexford General Hospital said prayers for the missing man at Hook Lighthouse last week and a large number of people attended.

Fr Doyle prayed for Mr Whelan’s family, relatives of Mr Sinnott and for volunteer groups who continued to search amid challenging weather conditions.

Volunteers continued to carry out coastal searches for Mr Whelan who only married several weeks ago.

The search concentrated on an area about 9km off Hook Head under the guidance of the LÉ Ciara naval vessel.

The Waterford based Sikorsky R117 helicopter along with R116 based in Dublin also assisted when possible.

A spokesperson for the Whelan family said: “Thank you again to each and every one of you.

"I literally can't put into words how grateful the Whelan family are.”

Mr Whelan, hailed from a well-known fishing family in Co Wexford.

Up to 50 volunteers took part in the searches and it is unknown what happened to the trawler which has yet to be recovered.

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