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Search continues for crew

Thursday, 16th March, 2017 1:01am

Tributes have been paid to the crew of the Coast Guard helicopter that went missing off the coast of Mayo on Tuesday, as the search for the missing members continues.

Four members of the Coast Guard went missing when their Rescue 116 helicopter lost contact with Malin Head Station shortly after 1am on Tuesday morning.

One of the crew, Captain Dara FitzPatrick, was recovered from the water on Tuesday morning but died at Mayo University Hospital shortly afterwards.

The search and rescue mission continued yesterday on the North Mayo coast for her fellow crew members - winch operator Paul Ormsby, winchman Ciarán Smith and Capt Mark Duffy – who, at the time of going to print, remained missing. Their helicopter is believed to have crashed six miles west of Blacksod in Mayo. Debris from the wrecked helicopter was recovered in the area during the search.

Two naval service vessels were on the scene with members of the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit yesterday.

The Celtic Voyager, a Marine Institute research ship, deployed an underwater vehicle fitted with cameras and sensors to carry out underwater searches yesterday morning.

Sligo and Shannon Coast Guard helicopters also continued air searches throughout the day.

The cause of the incident is not yet known.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said he knew the area where the incident took place well, paid tribute to the Coast Guard from Washington DC: “The Irish Coast Guard have been exceptionally professional and competent in their work over many years.”

President Michael D Higgins said on Tuesday: “Today marks a dark day in the history of the Coast Guard/Garda Cósta na hÉireann, with a member of this important service losing her life while providing assistance to others,” he said.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland, may I pay tribute to Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who died today.”

Cork South Central TD Micheál Martin also expressed his sorrow at the tragedy.

“Captain Dara FitzPatrick died in the service of the State; doing the job she loved,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.

“I want to express my deepest condolences to her family on their loss.”

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