Body found in search for Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew

A body has been found in the hunt for three missing crew members after a coast guard helicopter crashed into the Atlantic over a week ago. Picture; Chris Radburn

A body has been found in the hunt for three missing crew members after a coast guard helicopter crashed into the Atlantic over a week ago. Picture; Chris Radburn

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A body has been found in the search for three crew missing from an Irish Coast Guard helicopter that crashed into the Atlantic over a week ago.

The discovery was confirmed after eight dives were carried out on the wreckage of Rescue 116 off Blackrock island, about 13km off the coast of Co Mayo.

A recovery operation has been underway. Picture; Chris Radburn/PA Wire

A recovery operation has been underway. Picture; Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The body was in the cockpit of the helicopter wreckage on the seabed in 40m of water.

The body of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, a 45-year-old mother-of-one, was the first one of the four crew to have been recovered from the ocean.

The other crew members were Captain Mark Duffy, Winchman Ciaran Smith and Winch Operator Paul Ormsby.

Garda superintendent Tony Healy said efforts were continuing to recover the body.

“It’s a challenging time for the families obviously they’re going through a stressful time waiting for the recovery of their loved ones,” he said.

Families of the crew have been notified and are being supported by garda liaison staff.

The remotely-operated vehicle which confirmed the position of the wreckage on the sea floor was being used through the night as part of efforts to recover the body.

Garda and navy divers were also on standby to re-enter the water.

While the weather was calm and mild on Friday, conditions are to deteriorate slightly on Saturday before turning more favourable again into Sunday.

The back box, which holds the flight data and voice records, was taken from the wreckage on Friday and is being flown to Farnborough in England for analysis.

There was no apparent damage to the unit.

Air accident investigators will dry it and attempt to download the data at a special facility.

It is hoped it will be known if there is a record of the flight by Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Irish Lights Vessel Granuaile was positioned throughout the day next to a dive platform and carrying a recompression chamber in case of emergencies.

The Irish Navy ship LE Samuel Beckett was on scene helping to co-ordinate.

A shot line was dropped 40m on to the seabed next to the helicopter wreckage for divers to traverse.

The AAIU has said it believed the tail of Rescue 116 hit rocks on the western end of the island, about 13km (eight miles) off the Mayo coast as it returned from supporting a rescue mission to refuel at Blacksod.

There was no indication of any danger moments before the Sikorsky S92 vanished, with the crew’s final transmission: “Shortly landing at Blacksod.”

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