Two die in boat off Whitby coast: Carbon monoxide poisoning blamed

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Whitby harbour and church

Two young men who died in a boat off the coast of Whitby in Yorkshire were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, a marine accident report has found.

No carbon monoxide alarm was fitted on the fishing boat on which the two crewmen were found dead in their bunks.

Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, both died of carbon monoxide poisoning on the vessel, named Eshcol, off the coast of Whitby on January 15 this year.

The duo had left the grill of a butane-fuelled gas cooker lit when they went to bed. The grill was being used to warm the wheelhouse and sleeping area, said the report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

The MAIB, which had published an interim report into the tragedy earlier this year, said in today's report that the metal gauze in the grill was holed and corroded, causing extraordinarily high levels of CO emissions.

It also found that the cooker was four years old, had probably never been serviced, and that the wheelhouse door and windows were closed. The sleeping area had no other means of ventilation.

Neither the guidance for the installation of gas appliances on board small fishing vessels nor the cooker manufacturer's instructions had been followed when the cooker was fitted.

The report found that before the deceased were extremely tired and cold and said the vessel was not equipped for overnight sleeping and the heaters provided on board did not work.

The MAIB says that recommendations had been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which were intended to ensure that the accommodation areas in all small fishing vessels were fitted with a CO alarm.

The organisation's chief inspector Steve Clinch said: "This is one of several fatal accidents recently investigated by the MAIB where fishermen or leisure boat occupants have been poisoned by carbon monoxide.

"Clearly, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the sources of the gas, its dangers and the precautions that must be taken. There is no question that the fitting of CO alarms in the accommodation areas of all small vessels would help to prevent further similar tragedies from occurring in the future."

Father-of-two Mr Arries was from Blyth in Northumberland, while Mr Ide, who had a young son, was from Amble in Northumberland.

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