Family in mourning as boat capsizes off the coast at Bulli

Tragedy: Family and friends were at the Bulli Point search site on Sunday morning when the effort to find Saadallah El Kourouche (inset) and a five-year-old boy missing from a capsized boat was restarted. Main picture: Robert Peet

Tragedy: Family and friends were at the Bulli Point search site on Sunday morning when the effort to find Saadallah El Kourouche (inset) and a five-year-old boy missing from a capsized boat was restarted. Main picture: Robert Peet

Police believe they have found the body of a 28-year-old Sydney man who tried to save a five-year-old in the water off Bulli, on NSW's South Coast.

At around 1pm the body of a man was recovered off Corrimal.

While it has not been formally identified, police believe it is the body of Saadallah El Kourouche, missing since the boat he was in capsized off Bulli on Saturday night.

Mr El Kourouche, 28, of Carnes Hill in western Sydney, was one of four people on a boat that left Bellambi ramp around 1.30pm.

Search: Police and other emergency services at Bulli Point on Saturday night after a boat capsized, throwing four people into the water. Picture: Anna Warr

Search: Police and other emergency services at Bulli Point on Saturday night after a boat capsized, throwing four people into the water. Picture: Anna Warr

Emergency services were called after witnesses reported hearing screams for help coming from the water.

After a two-hour search, two men - aged 23 and 31 - were winched out of the water by helicopter and taken to Wollongong Hospital. They were released on Sunday.

The two remaining people on board were Mr El Kourouche and a five-year-old boy, the son of one of the rescued men.

Early on Sunday morning, police divers found the body of the boy inside the vessel, which had been towed to Port Kembla Harbour.

At 6am the search resumed but by then police had virtually given up any hope of finding Mr El Kourouche alive.

"I can't see anything positive coming out of it, unfortunately," Acting Wollongong District Commander Brad Ainsworth said.

"He's been in the water for 12 hours-plus. It's a sad reality, unfortunately. I would love to be wrong but I would be thinking at this stage we're just hopeful of retrieving [a body]."

Commander Ainsworth said there was speculation of a reef off the Bulli coast and the boat hit that and capsized.

He said that would form part of the police investigation, along with the level of navigation skills of those on board and whether lifejackets had been worn.

Mr El Kourouche's sister Hayat spoke to one of the rescued men on Saturday night.

"One of the guys that were rescued, I called him up," Ms Kourouche said.

"He told me that the boat flipped and that they were all drowning. The five-year-old was caught in the boat and my brother was trying to rescue the kid."

The friend told Ms Kourouche that he found her brother floating face-down.

He turned Mr El Kourouche over onto his back but soon lost him in the darkness.

Mr El Kourouche is married with three children.

His wife Samah said she didn't know her husband had planned to go fishing on Saturday.

She described him as a "very humble, friendly man".

"A loving person, he always puts other people before him," she said. "He's a very good person."

This story Family in mourning as boat capsizes off the NSW South Coast first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.