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By Jarryd Westerdale

Digital Journalist

Search for missing fishermen off Hout Bay ends without success

The MFV Lepanto sunk on Friday afternoon with the cause of the tragedy still to be investigated by authorities

The search and rescue missing for the crew of the MFV Lepanto has come to a disappointing conclusion.

Nine crew members were rescued on Friday but the 11 missing fishermen are now presumed to have drowned.

The MFV Lepanto sent out a distress call roughly thirty-five nautical miles from Hout Bay on Friday, with the MFV Armana sailing to assist their sister ship.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) led the rescue operation.

With significant time having elapsed, rescue workers were forced to abandon their efforts.

ALSO READ: Drama on Cape’s high seas: Nine plucked from ocean, 11 still missing as trawler sinks

The lucky nine who survived the incident were taken back to Cape Town where they were reunited with their families after undergoing physical examinations.

Sea Harvest CEO, Felix Ratheb, sent out his condolences.

“We are devastated by this tragedy. We are working closely with the relevant authorities to establish the cause of the accident as soon as possible. We wish to thank our employees and the rescue organisations for their active search and rescue operations since Friday.”

Minister Barbara Creecy sends condolences

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy welcomed the appointment of the casualty investigation team to determine the cause of MFV Lepanto’s sinking.

“I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families of the 11 crew members who are now presumed deceased.”

“I understand that the families of the bereaved fishermen have been informed that the search has been called off and that they are receiving professional counselling and support, and appropriate counselling will be given to the other fishermen who survived this incident,” said Creecy.

Missing Kathu man’s body discovered

Pierre Lotter and three of his dogs went missing last week during a fishing trip off the coast near Bloubergstrand.

A body believed to be that of Lotter was discovered in Melkbosstrand on Sunday. Two of the dogs were also discovered, with one found several days earlier.

ALSO READ: ‘Dehydrated and tired’ − NSRI rescues four scuba divers after drifting from boat in KZN

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) confirmed the discovery of Lotter’s body, stating:

“Formal identification remains in the process in cooperation with family, the SA Police Services and Government Health Forensic Pathology Services. Condolences are conveyed to family who remain in our thoughts in this difficult time.”