'Not safe' for divers to board sunken wreckage of L'Ecume II due to deteriorated state

Officials say the wreckage of the L'Ecume II is in a worse condition than previously thought, with efforts to raise the boat hampered by poor weather.

The fishing boat sank after a collision with a freight ship, the Commodore Goodwill, off Jersey's west coast on Thursday 8 December.

Two of the crew members on board at the time are confirmed to have died, while the skipper, Michael 'Mick' Michileli, is still missing.

Authorities gave an update on the recovery operation on Friday 21 April, saying efforts to raise the L'Ecume II had been seriously hampered by the sea conditions.

The wreck of the fishing boat had moved around five metres from its previous known location and is currently resting on its left side.

In its current state, it would not be safe for divers to enter the boat because its steel deck is unstable.

After a few setbacks caused by the weather and sea conditions, the recovery operation eventually began on Sunday 16 April - but is now likely to have been set back by a further two weeks.

Mick Michileli's family have been given the L'Ecume II's bell which was recovered in December. The family still wish for the boat to be raised.

The back part of the vessel called a transom was also gathered during that operation and is being stored in a secure location.

Officials say they are determined to raise as much of the wreckage "as they reasonably can".

A 1,000-metre maritime exclusion mode is in effect around the site of the wreck, as well as a ban on aircraft and drones in the area. They will remain in place until at least Wednesday 31 May.

A 1,000-metre exclusion zone will remain in place off Jersey's west coast until Wednesday 31 May. Credit: Jersey Coastguard

Jersey's Deputy Chief Minister, Kirsten Morel, chairs the group which oversees major incidents.

He said: "Raising the L’Ecume II is a complex and sensitive operation. I’d like to thank all the teams who are working hard on the operation to support this important humanitarian and investigative work.

"Last week’s weather, as well as current sea conditions, have created a challenging working environment for the specialist teams. Safety of the individuals involved is paramount, and we must ensure the operation only goes ahead when it is safe to do so.

"The emotional impact of the operation will be felt by many islanders. My thoughts remain with the families impacted by the tragedy, and I hope the operation will bring them closer to the answers they are seeking."

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