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R116 coastguard helicopter: Black box recorder found

Helicopter 116 crew Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Cpt Dara Fitzpatrick (top left) died after the crash but the bodies of her three crewmen are still missing

The black box recorder from a rescue helicopter that crashed last week has been recovered, the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (IAAIU) has said.

Four people were on board the Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 116 when it went down on 14 March.

Cpt Dara Fitzpatrick died after she was rescued from the sea.

The search to locate the bodies of her fellow crew members continues. Divers had been held back until Friday due to poor weather conditions.

Garda (Irish Police) Supt Tony Healy said divers on the seabed were currently "actively working" and would finish their cycle of diving but would not continue in darkness.

"As you know our primary aim is the recovery of the crew and we're working toward that end," he said.

The chief inspector with the IAAIU Jurgen Whyte said: "We're happy to announce we had a positive recovery of the data recorder at 1630 from the seabed just off Blackrock".

Mr Whyte said the recorder will be brought to Dublin before being sent to the UK air accident investigation branch where it will be prepared for download, hopefully successfully by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption The helicopter crashed near Blackrock island, after assisting in the rescue of a fisherman

The missing coastguard crew are Cpt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith.

Late on Friday afternoon, searchers began diving at Blackrock island off the coast of Blacksod, County Mayo, where the wreckage of the helicopter was found on Wednesday

It was discovered about 60m west of Blackrock island, in waters about 40m deep.

Coastguard boats from Achill, Westport and Killala and RNLI lifeboats from Achill and Ballyglass are searching the scene.

Helicopters are also taking part in a search of the coastline.

R116 lost contact with the Irish Coastguard at about 01:00 on 14 March, as it made its final approach to Blacksod refuelling depot.

The crew had been providing communications support to another coastguard helicopter that had been deployed to take an injured fisherman to hospital.

The wreckage of R116 was pinpointed after search teams deployed a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), fitted with an underwater camera.

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