Mayo helicopter crash: Agencies meet to discuss search operation

Image source, RTÉ
Image caption,
The helicopter's black box was located close to Blackrock Lighthouse

Agencies involved in a search for three Irish coastguard members off the County Mayo coast are to meet to discuss the next stage of the operation.

An extensive mapping exercise was carried out around Blackrock Lighthouse where a signal from their helicopter was picked up last Wednesday.

The aircraft lost contact and crashed the previous day.

The priority is to recover the bodies of chief pilot Mark Duffy and winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.

They were among four people who were on Irish Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter when it crashed in the early hours of Tuesday.

The funeral for pilot Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was held on Saturday.

Search crews hope the missing crew will be located in the wreckage of the helicopter.

Image source, RTÉ
Image caption,
Three of the four crew members are still missing

Heavy swells have, so far, prevented those involved from getting near to the site.

On Sunday, RTE reported that improved conditions meant search crews were able to get close to Blackrock Lighthouse, which is located about 10 miles off the coast, for the first time since the middle of last week.

Local vessels carried out detailed inspections of the undersea conditions using sonar scanning technology.

They surveyed depth and access points as well as mapping obstacles to ensure that divers will have a considerable insight into the local geography when they begin their operations.

All of this data has been collated overnight and will be presented to the agencies involved in the search on Monday.

Image source, RTE
Image caption,
Mourners included members of the Coast Guard who formed an honour guard before the funeral Mass

Captain Fitzpatrick was recovered from the sea, hours after the helicopter crashed.

She was the mother of a young son and the most senior pilot with CHC which runs the contract to provide search and rescue services in the Republic of Ireland.

Hundreds of mourners attended her funeral at St Patrick's Church in Glencullen, County Dublin.

Members of the Irish coastguard formed a guard of honour and the coastguard helicopter did a fly-past.