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'Extremely poor visibility' hampering rescue efforts for Dublin-bound helicopter in Irish Sea

The aerial search has been suspended until the weather improves.

Image: Andrew Matthews PA Archive/PA Images

THE UK COASTGUARD has said that extremely poor visibility is hampering the search efforts for a helicopter that went missing over the Irish Sea near the Welsh coast yesterday afternoon.

An extensive search has been carried out in the Irish Sea and the Snowdonia coastal region of north-west Wales since the helicopter, carrying five passengers, failed to reach its destination of Dublin after setting out from Milton Keynes, just north of London, earlier in the day.

In an update provided by Her Majesty’s Coastguard, it said “the helicopters have now returned to their respective bases and there are no plans at this stage to continue the aerial search unless the weather improves significantly”.

The search has now been taken over by North Wales Police, who have called in mountain rescue teams to continue the land-based search in the Snowdonia area.

irish sea The Dublin-bound helicopter lost radar contact near the Welsh coast. Source: Google Maps

It is believed the UK-registered, privately-owned helicopter had five people on board, all British nationals.

The helicopter was due to stop at Caernarfon on its way to Dublin, but never made it there, with no sightings or radio contact made from that point on.

Searches were only getting underway again this morning due to the poor visibility and weather conditions in the area.

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The Irish Coast Guard has said that it is ready and willing to assist in the search, with operations manager Declan Geoghegan telling RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that contact had been made from the helicopter to indicate that its flight plan had been changed and it was flying directly to Dublin before contact was lost.

The Irish Coast Guard were contacted shortly after 4pm. We carried out a communications search over the Irish Sea with all traffic in transit to see if the helicopter had made contact. There was no information on it.

The coastguard duty commander Peter Davies said at the outset of the search: “We are in the process of contacting all the vessels in the Irish Sea that were in the vicinity around midday and we are continuing mayday broadcast action for any vessels currently in the area to contact us if they have further information.

At the moment we are appealing to these vessels and to ask the public that if they have seen a twin squirrel red helicopter to please contact 999 and ask for the coastguard.

Read: Helicopter destined for Dublin goes missing over the Irish Sea

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Sean Murray

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