Second body found in WA fishermen search

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A family friend of the four fishermen that went missing off the coast of Perth says he will not give up hope of finding the two remaining men even though the chances are “slim”.

Jeff Tiedtke said he was at a loss to explain what happened to the four family members when they left for a fishing trip off Rottnest Island on Wednesday morning.

“We are guessing. I mean at the end of the day these guys went out quite a bit,” Mr Tiedtke said.

“They are experienced fishermen. They took all the safety precautions. I don’t know.”

The body of one of the men was found yesterday afternoon west of Garden Island, about five kilometres off the coast, south of Fremantle.

Police said a second body was found in the same area about 6:00pm last night.

The men’s vessel has not been located.

Both have still to be formally identified by family members.

But police confirmed among the missing were the 50-year-old owner of the boat from the Perth suburb of Coodanup, his brother — believed to be aged in his 40s — the 24-year-old son of the boat owner and a 31-year-old man who was also a member of the family.

Mr Tiedtke said the men’s deaths were “devastating”.

“As I say, we are trying to keep positive as best we can but I would say within the next 12 hours reality may set in,” he said.

“Everybody is doing as well as they can and it is a tragic, it is a tragic thing that has happened.”

Mr Tiedtke said he had not given up hope there would be survivors.

“We are hopeful and we know that the chances are slim but there is a chance, so until they have pulled out a couple more bodies then we will hope,” he said.

The search continued on Saturday with 10 search and rescue boats, two helicopters and a plane.

Inspector Sean Togher said police still hoped to find the other two men alive, but it was more likely to be a recovery mission.

“We can’t discount that someone would have survived this, but as time passes it becomes increasingly less likely,” Inspector Togher said.

He said the family had informed police that the boat had safety equipment onboard, but none of the equipment was activated.

“The debris that has been found today has been largely consistent with what you would call flotsam and jetsam from a vessel, there’s been some items of clothing and a backpack,” Inspector Togher said.

The 5.5 metre fishing boat has still not been found and Inspector Togher said it was not yet known what had happened, or the location of the incident.

“It could have occurred any region between Rottnest and Woodman Point,” he said.

“The seas would have been choppy, we’re talking about a 1.5 to 2 metre swell and I think 15 to 25 kilometre winds, so it would have been uncomfortable in a boat that size, but not unsafe, necessarily.”

Police said members of the fishing party had been in contact with family and friends throughout their expedition, right up until hours before their planned return on Thursday.

Water Police said they would like to hear from anyone who was boating at Rottnest Island and saw the white vessel with four people on board.

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