A 12-year-old boy and an adult man are still missing after last Friday’s boat accident in the Wadden Sea. Their identities have not been disclosed so far by the authorities. Police assume that they are no longer alive, AD reports.
Depending on the water currents, the missing passengers may be found far from Terschelling. Rescue company KNRM, the volunteer organization Search and Rescue Netherlands (SAR) and the police authorities began the operation on Friday afternoon.
The searches are mainly concentrated during low tide, because the bodies could surface on sandbanks near the collision site. The rescue team is using boats and quads to scan beaches and the sea, supported by drones and a police helicopter. Rescuers can only work when the sun is up and when tide is low, a limited window which is causing the search to stretch across several days.
“The area we are scanning is wide, and we must work close to the water because the bodies may be underneath the sea surface,” Kees Brinkman, a KNRM spokesperson, said. “We can’t predict where the two missing may be found. It depends on tides and wind direction,” Brinkman added, explaining that the current may carry them far away if surfacing from underneath. “The local community feels involved in the rescue and want to support our work. But it’s not something easy, our rescuers are doing their best,” Brinkman said. The police asked anyone who sees or finds something to call them immediately.
The accident happened on Friday, 21st October, at 7:12 in the Schuitengat, the water between Terschelling and Vlieland, approximately four kilometres southwest of West-Terschelling. It involved the ferry boat named the Tiger (carrying twenty-seven passengers, including crew) and a watertaxi named the Stormloper (eight passengers).
The cause of the collision remains under investigation by the police. It has been established that both of the ships may have been traveling too fast in the Schuitengat, where the maximum speed is 10 knots (20 km/h).
The passengers on the water taxi were all connected to a Sneek-based construction company, Friso, which renovates houses on Terschelling. They make the crossing by water taxi every day. Two people died after the impact: a 46-year-old man from Sexbierum and a 57-year-old man from Leeuwarden.
The Stormloper water taxi was recovered on Friday evening from the sea. The two ships are now on the shore in Harlingen, according to Omrop Fryslând. National Unit spokesman Dennis Janus said that it could take months to establish whether there is culpable guilt or not, and clarify what exactly happened in the accident.
In 2021, 148 shipping accidents happened in The Netherlands. A decreasing number compared to 2020 (175), according to the latest report by Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management executive agency. The North Sea registered one “very serious” shipping accident and ten “serious” shipping accidents, with no fatalities.