Monday 29 May 2017

'Search area is likely to widen as debris scatters,' says rescue worker

A piece of debris from the helicopter, with 'Coast Guard' written on it, is brought ashore yesterday Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A piece of debris from the helicopter, with 'Coast Guard' written on it, is brought ashore yesterday Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Robin Schiller

A rescue worker involved in the recovery operation of Rescue 116 says the search area will widen as debris from the helicopter continues to scatter.

Gary Bohan, from Belmullet, spent yesterday recovering debris in a rigid inflatable boat (rib), following the helicopter crash off the Co Mayo coast in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Mr Bohan worked alongside a dedicated team, tasked with removing debris from the Atlantic Ocean as an investigation tries to establish what happened to Rescue 116 in the moments before the crash.

"We got involved at about 9am this morning. The conditions are bad," he told the Irish Independent.

Rotor

"The debris is scattered across about two miles. The biggest part that came out is about half the size of a [truck] dirt panel.

The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
A Coast Guard Helicopter is refulled at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
A Coast Guard Helicopter lands at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A Coast Guard Pilot pictured with a Helicopter at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Gerard O'Flynn, Coast Guard, pictured at Blacksod Lighthouse. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Coastguard Personnel pictured loading helicopter debris into a jeep at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Garda Water Unit arriving at Blacksod Lighthouse for the search for the missing crew of The Coast Guard Helicopter. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Garda Water Unit pictured preparing to join the search at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A Coast Guard Helicopter lands at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
BOATMEN PICTURED LANDING HELICOPTER DEBRIS AT BLACKSOD LIGHTHOUSE TODAY. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
People watching the lifeboat searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The lifeboat searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
14/03/2017 The Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coastguard searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Gardai approaching the Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Helicopter wreckage is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017

"There's bits the size of a microphone out there too. It's all over the place," he said.

"We recovered pieces of the side panel and pieces of rotor blade. Tiny bits of objects are out there as well. We got the biggest of it but left the small stuff," he said.

Mr Bohan added that conditions at sea became more difficult as the day wore on with no sign of the three missing crew members.

"Water is getting dirtier as well. There'd be about four or five trawlers out there at the moment. RNLI, Ballyglass, a couple of guys are after going out in ribs as well.

"There's four or five fishing boats out there as well," he said, describing the scale of the massive search and rescue operation.

"The conditions are getting worse, even though it's calmed down a bit."

Asked if he found it a difficult operation to be involved in, Mr Bohan said: "We're just trying to do our bit for the community. Doing our best, that's all we can do.

"On the aviation side of things, I've never seen anything like this. I've seen boats sink and tragedies like that but nothing on this scale," he said.

"We're heading out again later on. The size of the area is getting bigger. The site at the moment is two square miles, but as the day gets on it's only going to get bigger and larger and larger, because the debris is scattering.

"It will definitely be floating north. Hope to God something will come a shore," he added.

Irish Independent

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