Six crew are still missing from a German registered side trawler which sank last night 240 miles west of Tiree

A ‘hit’ from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) 2310 hours last night initially alerted Falmouth Coastguard to an urgent distress signal within the search and rescue area co-ordinated from Clyde Coastguard. Falmouth Coastguard then immediately passed the message on to their colleagues in Clyde with the information that a 30m German registered side trawler Hansa could be in difficulty approximately 240 miles west of Tiree.

A Canadian Aurora aircraft, which happened to be on exercise in the area, was sent to the scene, and was joined by a Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss. A Coastguard helicopter was scrambled from Stornoway as was a Royal Naval Helicopter from RNAS Prestwick.

A passing merchant vessel, British Pride, responded to the Coastguard call for assistance, and altered course for the scene as did an oil bulk ore carrier who also offered assistance to help search the area.

John Griffiths, District Controller at Clyde Coastguard said, “The Canadian aircraft reported sighting a flare and a strobe light in area. When the Nimrod aircraft arrived on scene they reported seeing two liferafts in the water. The Spanish authorities reported 16 people on board the vessel; one German and 15 Spanish nationals. Investigations are continuing with the rescue co-ordination centres in Madrid and Bremen as the vessel had originally sailed from La Corunna in Spain.

Nine crewmen from the missing German side trawler were recovered from one of the liferafts earlier today. The search for the seven remaining crew continued throughout the morning. By midday a Royal Air Force Nimrod had located a man in a life raft and a vessel is currently making its way to the scene to attempt a rescue.