Belfast Telegraph

Dive teams hope to reach Irish rescue helicopter

By Ed Carty

Dive teams are hoping a weather window will open today to allow them to examine the wreckage of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter which crashed into the Atlantic over a week ago.

A remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) sent into 40m of water to film a specific area of seabed, confirmed the aircraft is lying about 60m off Blackrock island, off the coast of Co Mayo.

The Sikorsky S-92 is believed to have hit the island before crashing into the sea in the early hours of Tuesday, March 14.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (45), a mother of one, is the only one of the four crew to have been recovered from the ocean so far.

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

The Irish Coast Guard said the Dublin-based Rescue 116 helicopter is lying on the seabed, in about 40m of water, on the eastern side of the island.

Search teams are hoping winds maintain a northerly direction with swells around the island easing to below 3m, the safe limit for navy and garda divers to get into the ocean.

"Conditions are improving all the time," Declan Geoghegan of the Irish Coast Guard said.

"There'll be an exploratory dive hopefully. The ROV can only tell us so much. The human eye is much better. Once the divers go down they will have a much more positive idea of things."

It has not been confirmed if the remotely-operated vehicle has found the missing crew with the helicopter wreckage.

The helicopter was found following signals from the black box recorder.

It is believed the tail of Rescue 116 hit rocks on the western end of the island, about eight miles off the Mayo coast, as it returned from supporting a rescue mission to refuel at Blacksod.

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