With her back to the sea, Leirosa waits “in mourning”: “it was so quick that we don’t know how it happened”

Off Samouco beach, in the municipality of Marinha Grande, a helicopter flies over the “Virgem Dolorosa†. On land, some people watch the searches, point out, try to spot the trawler that sank this morning, about two kilometers from the coast. Some family members present asked for privacy. “As you can imagine, it’s not an easy time†.

A few kilometers ahead, in Figueira da Foz, the community of Leirosa gathers alongside the sea, shaken by the three fishermen who died in the shipwreck and the three who are still missing. Sitting next to the wall, the fishermen and their families comfort each other and wait for more news, with their backs turned to the waves and the sand that disappears from view. A fisherman and family member of one of the castaways sighs: “What do you want me to tell you? We are in mourning.”

“Most [dos náufragos] It’s from the same family, but it’s as if they were all the same. We are a united community that supports each other†says Mário Fernandes, a 62-year-old retired fisherman. He points to his comrades and to the sea, explaining that when one suffers, everyone suffers.

Vítor, a family member of one of the fishermen on the “Virgem Dolorosa†, adds that “that boat was all familyâ€. “We are all sick. There’s no explanation,’ she says.


The trawler “Virgem Dolorosa†, a vessel measuring 25 by six meters, left the port of Figueira da Foz to fish for sardines and sank in the early hours of this Thursday, between the beach of São Pedro de Moel and Vieira beach, with the alert being given at 4:33 am.

There were 17 fishermen on board, aged between 20 and 60, including two Indonesian citizens, who are part of the group of survivors. Three people were injured and one is in intensive care and could be transferred to the Coimbra hospital.

Many of those who survived were saved by four fishing vessels that were nearby. At a press conference, the commander of the Figueira da Foz captaincy admitted that it would be “an even greater tragedy†if other fishermen were not at sea.

“The sea is the fakest thing in the worldâ€

The causes that led to the “Dolorous Virgin†sinking are still unknown. The National Maritime Authority confirmed that the swell “is not enough for the vessel to have sunk†and that “the oceanographic conditions are not very adverse†.

He also mentioned that the fishermen had only left a few hours before the alert, so the tiredness theory is also not considered the most likely. A fisherman, on Leirosa beach, reiterates that the boat “was new†and that the crew was “very experienced, with many years at sea†. There is also talk of weight and diesel, something that was mentioned by the authorities.

Vitor searches for an explanation, a reason to justify the sinking. The fisherman says that he continues to go out to sea, after he too was shipwrecked seven years ago. He was on one of the boats that rescued some people from the “Virgem Dolorosaâ€.

“We don’t know, we don’t know. It was so fast that we don’t know how it happened,” he says in response to theories about the causes of the sinking. But Mário Fernandes, next to the statue of the “Peixeira†who supervises the group, is more taciturn: “The sea is the fakest thing in the world. If you advance from that wave to that, you can be swept away and never come back.”he warns, pointing to the strong waves and the cold late afternoon wind.

Mário, who has already stopped fishing, takes the opportunity to criticize, remembering that those who risk their lives at sea do so for “pennies†. “Businessmen take everything and the fisherman bears the risk. Have you seen how the kilo of sardines are?†he asks. But the risk is inevitable and everyone recognizes it. Another family member and fisherman talks to an RTP journalist about the wreck and, with irony, exasperates: “That’s what I like to do. What am I going to do besides this?†he shoots.

The President of the Republic associated himself with “the pain and mourning†of the fishermen from the trawler “Virgem Dolorosa†and their families. And he also reflected on the risk they face for the country. “This profession, which so enriches our maritime tradition, also reminds us of the risks and challenges faced by many of our compatriots, who deserve our respect and admiration. The loss of the lives of these brave men is a tragedy for us all.”

The search for the three missing fishermen will continue during the early hours of this Thursday, with the ship NRP Setúbal, accompanied by the Amarok vehicle from the SeaWatch project on land. The divers were unable to enter the boat due to the strong waves that were felt during the day in Marinha Grande. “The searches have not been suspended,†highlighted the spokesperson for the National Maritime Authority in Lusa. Tomorrow, there will be another attempt to enter the vessel.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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