Rescue 116: Rough conditions hindering search for three missing crew members
Search is focused on area close to Blackrock lighthouse
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.
- Read more: 'Perfect, well-liked and selfless': The brave heroes of tragic Rescue 116
- Read more: 'We'll miss you forever and love you always' -Sister of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick pays heartbreaking tribute
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.
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”.