The Irish Coast Guard have confirmed that there has been an incident involving one of its Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopters off the west coast of Ireland.

At approximately 1am contact was lost with one of the coast guard’s SAR Helicopters.

RTE, Ireland’s national public-service media organisation, reports that one member of the crew of the Rescue 116 Coast Guard helicopter has been located in a critical condition, while the search for the other three members continues.

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said: ‘A major sea search is ongoing off the county Mayo coast approximately six miles west of Blacksod. SAR Helicopters from Sligo and Shannon are on scene along with the Air Corps Casa. Ballyglass and Achill all weather lifeboats (ALBs) are on scene along with five local fishing vessels.

‘The Sligo based Coast Guard helicopter R118 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. Owing to the distance involved safety and communication support, known as Top Cover, was provided by the second Coast Guard helicopter, the Dublin based R116.

‘The search operation is being coordinated by the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Centre in Malin Head. Both helicopters refuelled at Blacksod prior to transiting to the scene.’

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said: ‘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.’