The search operation off Ireland’s Mayo coast for the crew of Rescue 116 continues today with resources from the Irish Coast Guard, RNLI, the Naval Service, An Garda Siochana and local fishing vessels on scene.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered from the scene yesterday and flown to Mayo University hospital Castlebar where sadly she was pronounced dead.

Efforts to locate Captain Mark Duffy and winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith continue.

Naval service and Garda Water unit divers will today assess conditions for a dive on an area close to Black rock, 10 miles west of Blacksod.

What happened?

At approximately 1am yesterday morning contact was lost with one of the coast guard’s Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters off the west coast of Ireland.

Rescue 116 had been providing safety and communication support to the SAR helicopter R118, as it completed an early morning medical evacuation (medevac) of a crewman requiring urgent medical attention from a UK registered fishing vessel approximately 150 miles west of Eagle Island in County Mayo.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said yesterday: ‘As the search for the Dublin based helicopter R116 is currently underway I would like to express my sincere support and sympathies for all those involved, particularly those family members who are awaiting news of their loved ones.
‘This is an extremely difficult time for all concerned. As we await further information I would like to appeal for space to be given to the relevant professionals involved in the search operation to complete their work. Once again, I send my utmost support to all those affected.’

HM Coastguard has paid tribute to the four helicopter crew, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy and Winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith, who were tragically lost in the line of duty.

Richard Parkes, director of maritime operations for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said:  ‘We offer our deep and heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard.
‘It goes without saying that this tragic incident has hit search and rescue families hard across the world.
‘We are reminded not only of their dauntless courage, but of the risk that all those who work for both the Coastguard and Search and Rescue face in the line of duty.
‘We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in these dark hours.’