Sunday, December 23, 2007

Divers Recover Body Of Second Crew Member From Capsized Clyde Tugboat

Divers yesterday recovered a second body from inside a tugboat which capsized in the Clyde. Strathclyde Police confirmed that the body of Eric Blackley, 57, from Gourock, was found in the Flying Phantom during a recovery operation yesterday morning. The body of his colleague Robert Cameron, 65, was found on Friday afternoon. Boat skipper Stephen Humphreys, 33, from Greenock has yet to be found. A fourth crew member was rescued. Yesterday it emerged that Humphreys' sons Callum, 10, and Scott, six, were refusing to give up hope that their father had survived the sinking last Wednesday, which happened in thick fog. Cameron's body was recovered from the submerged boat in the River Clyde on Friday night, a Strathclyde Police spokesman said. Cameron, of Houston, Renfrewshire, worked as an engineer on the vessel, which ran aground at Clydebank while towing a cargo vessel. Rescuers planned to resume their search for Humphreys at first light today. The lone survivor, Brian Aitchison, 37, from Coldingham in the Scottish Borders, was rescued by a passing boat as he swam towards shore.
Flying Phantom
A family friend of Humphreys said: "Callum and Scott still expect their dad will be back. They keep thinking he's in a lifeboat. "They have been told what's happened, but in their minds he's coming home." A search operation was launched when the alarm was raised at about 6.40pm, but was hampered by the dense fog. At its peak, the search involved 60 rescuers and a dozen boats, and included RNLI vessels, coastguard teams, and Royal Navy and Strathclyde Police divers. Police and coastguards began scouring the river again shortly before 11am yesterday, with divers searching the waters. The Flying Phantom, operated by Svitzer UK, was lead tug towing the 39,738-tonne bulk carrier Red Jasmine when it got into difficulty and went down opposite Clydebank College.Svitzer UK managing director James Curry said: "We will continue to provide as much support and assistance as we possibly can to Bob's family and to the families of Stephen and Eric.
Flying Phantom
We will also continue to do everything we can for Brian and his family as he recovers from this terrible ordeal. "Our investigation into the accident is ongoing and we are continuing to co-operate fully with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department of Transport." Blackley's family have also paid tribute to "a much loved husband and father". They said: "This is an extremely upsetting time for us as a family. "Our thoughts are also with the families of Eric's colleagues at this most difficult time." The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation. It emerged on Thursday that the Greenock-based Flying Phantom was involved in a collision when it hit an Egyptian cargo vessel carrying 1,000 tonnes of fertiliser in thick fog.

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