Says Sailors Searched For Bodies As Sharks Bask Nearby With AM-Air-India Crash, Bjt
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ The captain of the first vessel at the scene of the Air-India crash said Irish sailors swam in the North Atlantic to recover bodies as a school of sharks basked nearby.
″It was a very brave thing for the men of the (Irish navy fisheries protection vessel) Aisling to do,″ said Capt. Roddy McDougall, master of the Laurentian Forest. ″I would not have done it.″
The Panamanian-registered cargo ship docked at Dublin on Tuesday after two days of helping in the search for victims of Sunday’s crash, which killed all 329 people aboard Air-India Flight 182.
The Boeing 747, flying from Toronto and Montreal to London’s Heathrow Airport en route to Bombay, India, is believed to have crashed because of an unexplained explosion, investigators said Tuesday.
McDougall said his ship arrived on the scene at about 10 a.m. local time Sunday, shortly after a British Nimrod reconnaissance plane had made the first sighting of wreckage.
″It was terrible. Death is never pleasant, but to see so many men, women and children is horrific,″ he told reporters.
″Some of the bodies floating on the surface were clothed, others were naked. Their clothes had either been blown or torn off.″
Shortly after the Laurentia Forest caught sight of the wreckage, ″We saw liferafts that had not been inflated lying in the water.
″As we moved in we met part of the wheel and tail. There was a strong smell of fuel and then we saw the bodies,″ the captain said.
McDougalls described the Irish seamen swimming in the water to recover the bodies despite the nearby school of sharks.
He said 15 of the victims were taken aboard the Laurentian Forest with the aid of seamen from the Irish navy. The bodies were later taken by helicopter to the Haulbowline naval base in Cork on Ireland’s south coast. McDougall’s ship was on its way from Quebec to Dublin with a cargo of newsprint.
Wreckage recovered by the Laurentia Forest was taken to Dublin, where police took it for examination.