Search mounted for man adrift at sea off Clare

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

A massive search and rescue operation was mounted late on Saturday evening after an elderly fisherman was reported adrift at sea off Kilkee.

The 71-year-old, believed to be from Lithuania, is thought to have been left drifting off Kilkee for several hours after the propellor on his small inflatable boat separated from its drive shaft.

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He was spotted several times during the day by people on the shore but there was no indication he was in trouble. Later he was seen again off Donegal Point north of Kilkee. Concerned that the man was still fishing so late in the day, onlookers raised the alarm.

The Irish Coast Guard marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry mounted a search and rescue operation at around 9.00pm.

The man was spotted drifting close to Donegal Point – Image: Google Maps

The Kilkee and Doolin units of the Irish Coast Guard along with the Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat were requested to proceed to the area and assist in the search.

In the meantime, staff at Valentia broadcast radio messages asking any boats in the area of Kilkee and Donegal Point to keep a look out for the small boat and assist if possible.

The elderly man managed to use an oar to paddle his way into Farrihy Bay between Kilkee and Donegal Point where he was met by rescue teams.

Kilkee Coast Guard officer in charge Martony Vaughan – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

Kilkee Coast Guard officer in charge (OIC) Martony Vaughan said: “We were alerted to a boat adrift north of Kilkee and sent teams to the area. A number of people had expressed concern that the boat was out very late and were worried that the man was in trouble. They called 999 which was the right thing to do.”

“Members of Doolin Coast Guard were also on scene and the lifeboat was sent from Inis Mór too. The helicopter (Rescue 115) was also tasked but was stood down once we had the man safely ashore,” Mr Vaughan said.

In November 2011, a 52-year-old Latvian man drowned after his dinghy capsized in rough seas in the same area.

An investigation later determined that the man had “died needlessly” and had no safety or communications equipment with him.

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