Rescue 116: New searches due for bodies of coastguard crew

Helicopter 116 crew 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

Searches are due to resume for the bodies of two Irish coastguard crew, four months after they went missing in a helicopter crash.

Four crew members died when the Rescue 116 aircraft hit Blackrock Island on the County Mayo coast on 14 March.

Two bodies were recovered soon after the crash, but Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have not been recovered.

A boat is expected to comb the seabed later and Garda (Irish police) divers will search the scene if necessary.

Sea searches for the two men were scaled back in April and plans were made to resume in the summer when seas were expected to be calmer.

Aerial surveys are also planned in the coming days.

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

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was the first crew member to be found - she was rescued from the sea hours after the crash but died later in hospital.

The body of her co-pilot Capt Mark Duffy was recovered from the submerged wreckage of the helicopter more than 10 days later.

The wreckage was discovered about 60m west of Blackrock Island, in waters about 40m deep.

The helicopter had lost contact with the Irish Coastguard at about 01:00 local time on 14 March, as it approached Blacksod refuelling depot.

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

The Irish Coast Guard said the open water and shoreline search operation for the crew was one of the largest in the history of the state.

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