Latest: Body of crewman remains trapped in wreckage of Rescue 116

Update 6.30pm: 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."

Update 2.14pm: Efforts to free the body of a missing crewman from the wreckage of Rescue 116 are being hampered by ocean swells off the Mayo coast.

The body, as yet unidentified, was located last night in the cockpit of the Coastguard Helicopter which crashed near Blackrock Island.

Superintendent Tony Healy says the families are being kept up to date on developments.

"It's a very challenging time for the families, obviously they're going through a very stressful situation waiting for the recovery of their loved ones," he said.

"They're being kept fully up-to-date with the Garda Family Liaison officer, and they're abreast of all developments in relation to the work that we're doing at the moment."

Update 12.08pm: Today's effort to recover the crewman's body from the wreckage of Rescue 116 is expected to take several hours.

The helicopter crashed just under a fortnight ago near Blackrock island with four crew on board.

Coast Guard Manager Declan Geoghan said that it is intricate work.

"There's quite an amount of debris to be moved," he said.

"Safety is paramount for everybody - the crew of the vessel, the dive team - and once that's removed then, the plan will be to extract our colleague."

Separately, Chief Inspector with the Air Accident Investigation Unit Jurgen Whyte says recovering data from the helicopter's black box unit will take some time: "It requires a certain amount of work because the recorder was submerged in salt water," he said.

"There is a process of preserving the recorder, drying it out and then preparing it for download, which we expect to be around Tuesday or Wednesday."

Earlier:

A body has been found in the search for three crew missing from a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed over a week ago.

The discovery was confirmed after eight dives were carried out on the wreckage of Rescue 116 off Blackrock island, about 13km off the coast of Co Mayo.

The body was in the cockpit of the helicopter wreckage on the seabed in 40m of water.

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 superintendent Tony Healy said efforts were continuing to recover the body.

"It's a challenging time for the families obviously they're going through a stressful time waiting for the recovery of their loved ones," he said.

Families of the crew have been notified and are being supported by Garda liaison staff.

The remotely-operated vehicle which confirmed the position of the wreckage on the sea floor was being used through the night as part of efforts to recover the body.

Garda and Navy divers were also on standby to re-enter the water.

While the weather was calm and mild on Friday, conditions are to deteriorate slightly today before turning more favourable again tomorrow..

The back box, which holds the flight data and voice records, was taken from the wreckage yesterday 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.

It is hoped it will be known if there is a record of the flight by Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Irish Lights Vessel Granuaile was positioned throughout the day next to a dive platform and carrying a recompression chamber in case of emergencies.

The Irish Navy ship LE Samuel Beckett was on scene helping to co-ordinate.

A shot line was dropped 40m on to the seabed next to the helicopter wreckage for divers to traverse.

The AAIU has said it believed the tail of Rescue 116 hit rocks on the western end of the island, about 13km (eight miles) off the Mayo coast 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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