HOPE FADING Coast Guard members involved in the search for the crew of helicopter Rescue 116 gathered at Blacksod. Pic: Keith Heneghan
The search for the three missing crew members of the Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 will continue through the night, but hopes are fading of finding any survivors.
Gerry O’Flynn, Search and Rescue Operations Manager with the Irish Coast Guard explained this evening that the search has been scaled back but will continue.
The navy vessel LÉ Róisín, which has been involved in the search all day will be joined by the LÉ Eithne.
“We are fortunate to have the support of the navy and the LÉ Róisín will be joined by the LÉ Eithne, who propose to continue the search though the night. Obviously we will scale back the air side of the search, but there will be a limited search,” he said.
Mr O’Flynn earlier confirmed the death of pilot, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who was taken from the water early this morning but was pronounced dead in hospital in Castlebar.
The helicopter Rescue 116, based in Dublin, crashed with out warning in an area close to Blackrock Lighthouse, approximately eight miles off the Blacksod coast.
Family members of the three still-missing crew members – named as Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby – have been arriving to Blacksod and are being comforted by members of the Coast Guard and a local priest.
Mr O’Flynn admitted that as time passes, the chances of finding survivors fade, but the searchers will not give up hope.
Debris from the helicopter has been arriving all evening to Blacksod Pier and is being transported to a secure location, where it will be investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Unit.
A full search will continue at first light, and Mr O’Flynn said weather conditions will determine how they proceed.
Updated at 21.07