R116 coastguard helicopter: Capt Mark Duffy's body recovered

Image source, RTÉ
Image caption,
Clockwise from top left: Cpt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby

The body recovered from the wreckage of Irish Coast Guard helicopter R116 is that of Captain Mark Duffy, the Garda (police) have said.

Four people were on board the helicopter when it went down off the coast of County Mayo on 14 March.

The missing coastguard crew were Capt Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith. Capt Duffy's body has been brought to shore.

A few miles away in the village of Aughleam people gathered at the roadside to pay their respects.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The body of Captain Mark Duffy is driven in a hearse accompanied by a guard of honour

The Irish State Pathologist's Office has been informed and a post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out at Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar on Sunday.

Search teams had been trying to remove the body of the crew member from the cockpit of the aircraft, but investigators said sea conditions had impeded dives to the wreckage on Saturday.

The agencies involved in the search had hoped sea conditions would improve on Sunday.

Operation commanders met on board the Granuaile in Blacksod Bay on Saturday to discuss a course of action.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Members of the Irish coastguard scan the coastline

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to clear some of the mangled wreckage and open access to the cockpit.

Nine drones were deployed on the coast of Mullet peninsula and around Erris Head to comb the shoreline.

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

The chief inspector with the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit (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.

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.

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.