Investigators find wreckage from missing coastguard helicopter

The search continues for an Irish coastguard helicopter which went missing off the west coast of Ireland
The search continues for an Irish coastguard helicopter which went missing off the west coast of Ireland

Wreckage from an Irish coastguard helicopter that crashed off the coast of Co Mayo has been found.

It has been reported that air accident investigators discovered parts of the aircraft close to a lighthouse on Blackrock island on Thursday evening.

Weather conditions have hampered an operation to find the remaining three crew members.

After the detection of a black box signal off the coast of Co Mayo was hailed as a significant development, large Atlantic swells delivered a setback to search teams.

Declan Geoghegan, of the Irish Coast Guard, said scanning for the wreck of the crashed Sikorsky S92 helicopter had to be abandoned for much of Thursday - the third day of the operation.

The search is centred around Blackrock Lighthouse - around 13km offshore from Blacksod, where the aircraft was intended to land to refuel early on Tuesday morning moments before it disappeared without warning.

Describing the swell around the lighthouse as “horrendous”, Mr Geoghegan added: “The outlook for the next 24 hours is not great.”

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, was found in the water and later confirmed dead.

She was the mother of a three-year-old son.

The other three crew, who have yet to be found, are chief pilot Mark Duffy from Dundalk, Co Louth, as well as Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby, both winchmen from north Co Dublin.

The detection of a faint signal from the black box recorder on Wednesday buoyed hopes it would lead investigators to the bulk of the aircraft and vital clues as to the final moments of its doomed mission.

Coastal, sea surface and air searches continued as the Commissioner of Irish Lights ship, the Granuaile, which is equipped with a heavy-lifting crane, made its way to the scene.