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Dublin: 17°C Friday 24 September 2021

R116 investigation hampered by poor weather

Wreckage of the fuselage of the helicopter was discovered in 40 metres of water close to Black Rock lighthouse yesterday morning.

Coast Guard helicopter missing Source: Peter Byrne

EFFORTS TO CONTINUE the investigation into the crash that downed  Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 are expected to be hampered by poor weather today.

Adverse sea conditions are expected to reduce the chances of divers being able to reach the downed aircraft until at least this evening.

Wreckage of the fuselage of the downed aircraft was discovered yesterday afternoon in 40 metres of water close to Black Rock lighthouse, some 12 miles off the coast of Blacksod, Mayo.

That wreckage was discovered by a remote operated vehicle (ROV) being used in the search.

The same ROV is expected to visit the now verified crash site once more today given the difficult weather conditions in place.

The ROV has cameras, sensors and grabbers that can be used at depths of up to three kilometres.

Several days of milder weather are expected from tomorrow morning.

While the fuselage has yet to be examined in detail, it is hoped that the bodies of chief pilot Captain Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciarán Smith will be still in the aircraft.

Investigators have been working on the theory that part of the tail section of the aircraft struck rocks close to the lighthouse before crashing into the sea.

Rescue 116 had been deployed from its base at Dublin Airport to provide top cover for the Sligo-based helicopter, Rescue 118, as part of a rescue mission to aid a casualty on a Scottish trawler on 13 March.

The helicopter disappeared abruptly from radar at 12.45am on the morning of 14 March while preparing to land and refuel at Blacksod.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was found in the initial search and rescue operation after contact was lost with the helicopter. She later died in hospital.

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