Tuesday 25 April 2017

Rescue 116: Rough conditions hindering search for three missing crew members

Search is focused on area close to Blackrock lighthouse

The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the crash Photo: Steve Humphreys
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the crash Photo: Steve Humphreys
A Coast Guard helicopter returns to Blacksod, Co Mayo Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash Photo: Steve Humphreys
A ship helps in the search mission Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Wreckage from the helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier Photo: Steve Humphreys
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
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
A fisherman looks on disbelief as 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
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
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Rough conditions are hindering the search for the three missing crew members of Rescue 116 off the coast of Mayo.

The search began this morning at first light, assisted by the Marine Institute vessel, the Celtic Voyager, which has joined the operation off Blacksod and which is expected to prove vital, with its specialist sonar search capabilities. It took equipment on board at about 6.30am.

The families of chief pilot Mark Duffy, winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith gathered at a holiday home close to Blacksod lighthouse which was put at their disposal, as they waited for news.

Gerard O'Flynn, the search and rescue operations manager with the Irish Coast Guard said the search is "well resourced", with the naval vessels the LE Eithne and the LE Roisin. Naval divers are currently assessing the best areas in which to conduct a dive while the Ballyglass lifeboat will be conducting shoreline searches.

He said they are not seeking any further assistance from the public and urged them to 'leave it to the professionals' at this stage.

The search is focused on an area of about two square miles close to Blackrock lighthouse, about eight miles out at sea, where most of the scattered debris was found. However Mr O'Flynn said the search may widen.  

Irish Coast Guard Personnel pictured searching the shoreline at Belmullet for signs of the Missing Coast Guard Aircrew.
PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Irish Coast Guard Personnel pictured searching the shoreline at Belmullet for signs of the Missing Coast Guard Aircrew. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Heavy seas at Blacksod Bay which hampered search efforts for the missing crewmen of THe Coast Guard Helicopter today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Irish Coast Guard Personnel pictured searching the shoreline at Belmullet for signs of the Missing Coast Guard Aircrew. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Heavy seas at Blacksod Bay which hampered search efforts for the missing crewmen of THe Coast Guard Helicopter today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Irish Coast Guard Personnel pictured searching the shoreline at Belmullet for signs of the Missing Coast Guard Aircrew. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Irish Coast Guard Personnel pictured searching the shoreline at Belmullet for signs of the Missing Coast Guard Aircrew. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The LE Roisin pictured on its search for missing Coast Guard Crew members at Blacksod Bay. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
An RNLI Lifeboat pictured on its search for missing Coast Guard Crew members at Blacksod Bay. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN

 Weather conditions are deteriorating, with winds currently of about force six to force seven and visibility is a concern, Mr O'Flynn admitted.

"It is enormously difficult for the families," he said, saying that they were seeing a lot of activity with boats going out but they wanted "hard information and not clutching at straws."

Meanwhile Niamh Fitzpatrick, the sister of fallen hero Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who was confirmed as the first casualty of Rescue 116, has paid tribute to her sister on Morning Ireland, saying the family were heartbroken but that Dara had lived her life as she wanted to.

"It never occurred to Dara that she couldn't do it because she was female," she said.

She said Dara had “loved her job and was excellent at it”.

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