Belfast Telegraph

Body of crewman remains trapped in Irish Coast Guard helicopter wreckage

The body of a crewman of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter that crashed into the Atlantic 11 days ago remains trapped in the wreckage.

After 3m ocean swells hampered diving on Saturday, a submersible robot was used to clear debris and fuselage on the seabed 40m down.

The man's body was discovered on Friday in the cockpit of Rescue 116 off Blackrock island, about 13km (eight miles) off the coast of Co Mayo.

The body of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, a 45-year-old mother-of-one, was the first one of the four crew to have been recovered from the ocean.

The other crew members were Captain Mark Duffy, Winchman Ciaran Smith and Winch Operator Paul Ormsby.

Garda Inspector Gary Walsh said: "The remotely operated vehicle has been in the water on different occasions, but it's still not possible to free the trapped individual in the aircraft.

"No dive could take place due to the sea swell. It is hoped dives can take place tomorrow, judging by the forecast."

An underwater camera is also being used around the wreck site in a bid to find the bodies of the two crew members who are still missing.

Nine drones were deployed on the coast of Mullet peninsula and around Erris Head to comb the shoreline.

The air search, being led by Irish Coast Guard helicopters, continued along north Mayo and into Donegal bay.

Some small pieces of debris from the crash was also discovered between Blacksod and Annagh Head.

Teams of Navy and Garda divers are on standby to enter the water if conditions turn more favourable.

A co-ordination meeting involving Navy chiefs, Irish Coast Guard officials, senior gardai and others involved in the recovery operation took place on the Granuaile to plan for potential dives.

The black box, which holds the flight data and voice records, was taken from the wreckage on Friday and is being flown to Farnborough in England for analysis.

There was no apparent damage to the unit.

Air accident investigators will dry it and attempt to download the data at a special facility during the next week.

The AAIU has said it believed the tail of Rescue 116 hit rocks on the western end of the island as it returned from supporting a rescue mission to refuel at Blacksod.

There was no indication of any danger moments before the Sikorsky S92 vanished, with the crew's final transmission: "Shortly landing at Blacksod."

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