A search for missing fishermen taking place off Jersey’s west coast – after a trawler sank following a collision with a freight ship – has been suspended overnight.
A Ports of Jersey spokesperson said search and rescue services ‘will regroup before first light tomorrow’ to consider how to proceed.
The 18-metre L’Ecume II collided with Commodore Goodwill off Jersey’s west coast at about 5.30am.
The trawler’s skipper has been named as Michael Michieli.
The fishing boat sank at the scene, and Goodwill later returned to St Helier Harbour with visible damage to its bow.
An exclusion zone has been placed around the collision site, following a ministerial decision from Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel, which prevents the passage of any vessels, diving, fishing, laying static gear or trawling.
Deputy Morel said he was ‘very grateful’ for the efforts of rescuers.
‘My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of everyone involved. We live in a close-knit community where the emotional impact of an incident like is felt by many Islanders,’ said Deputy Morel.
A number of local and French fishing boats also joined in the search mission.
Rescue boats, a helicopter and two search planes spent much of the day scouring the sea off to the west and north-west of the Island.
WATCH: Time-lapse video of the crash
The Jersey Lifeboat Association’s Sir Max Aitken III also self-launched to help with the efforts.
A spokesperson for Ports of Jersey said early on Thursday: ‘A major search and rescue operation is under way in St Ouen’s Bay following a collision at sea. We will provide more details when we can.’
In a statement, Condor said: ‘Condor Ferries can confirm that its freight vessel, Commodore Goodwill, has been involved in an incident north west of Jersey.
‘The ship departed Guernsey for Jersey at 04:41 this morning and the incident occurred at around 05:30.
‘She is carrying five passengers and 24 crew and the Master remains in full command of the vessel.
‘More information will be provided when available. All other Condor services are unaffected.’
John Napton, Condor’s chief executive, said that the ship’s captain ‘notified the coastguard in Jersey and Goodwill has assisted in the search and rescue’.
He added: ‘Condor has notified authorities and will fully comply with any investigation into the incident.’
In a further update issued later in the afternoon, Ports of Jersey said the Coastguard was suspending the search overnight.
‘Search and rescue services will regroup before first light tomorrow to consider the findings of the search by the remote operation vehicle – the uncrewed underwater craft – before deciding how to proceed.
‘Commercial shipping has been rerouted eastbound around the Island to avoid the search area.’
Following the overnight suspension of the search, Mr Napton said: ‘This is a very difficult situation and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of these fellow
seafarers as we all try to come to terms with what has happened.’
Anyone who finds debris on beaches is being asked to note where it was found and call the Coastguard on 01534 447705.