Rescue 116 coastguard helicopter crew search extended

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

The search for two Irish Coast Guard crew members missing since a helicopter crash has been extended along the Irish coast.

Winch operator Paul Ormsby and winch man Ciarán Smith have been missing since Rescue 116 crashed off the County Mayo coast on 14 March.

The Irish Coast Guard said the search would now also cover coastline along Counties Donegal and Galway.

Four people were on board the helicopter when it came down.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick died after she was rescued from the sea hours after the crash.

The body of her co-pilot, Capt Mark Duffy, was later recovered from the wreckage.

On Sunday, the wreckage of the helicopter was lifted from the Irish Sea but the two missing crew members were not found.

The Irish Coast Guard, writing on social media, said underwater searches would resume on Thursday, weather permitting.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption The crew of Rescue 116 (clockwise from top left): Capt Dara Fitzpatrick;, Capt Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby

The extension of the search comes after the sister of Ciarán Smith appealed for fishermen along the Irish coast to join the search.

Orla Smith said that local knowledge could be crucial in finding the two men.

An investigation into what happened to the helicopter is continuing.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit has said there was no indication of any mechanical problems in the seconds before the impact.

It is thought the inquiry into the cause of the crash on 14 March will now focus on operational issues.

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