Coast Guard member rescued from helicopter crash dies

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"We'll continue to search for the missing crew members until such time as we have recovered them and the flight recorder".

Eugene Clonan, acting director of the Irish Coast Guard, said the helicopter was one of best that can be used in search and rescue operations and had a "very good safety record".

"We don't know what happened and obviously there will be an air accident investigation into it".

"My thoughts are with her family at this hard moment and also with the families of the missing crew".

She was a Captain of over 20 years' experience and her passing has been described as a hammer blow to the emergency services by Gerard O'Flynn, the Search and Rescue operations manager.

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said: 'A major sea search is ongoing off the county Mayo coast approximately six miles west of Blacksod.

The aircraft lost contact at about 1am local time as it was coming in to refuel as part of the operation.

Tuesday's search involves an Irish naval vessel, two lifeboats, five private trawlers, two helicopters and an army surveillance plane.

The casualty rescued off the Mayo coast this morning has died in hospital.

The 45-year-old Dubliner had been carrying out search and rescue missions for more than two decades and was recognised with honours and a place in the aviation history books.

"We are all grateful for the courage, resolution and exemplary commitment to the aims of the Coast Guard that Captain Fitzpatrick and her colleagues have consistently displayed", President Higgins said.

"Since then with daylight with all the assets on scene, 1 casualty has been located and is in a critical condition but we don't hold out much hope there, and indeed for the remainder of the crew hope is fading as well".

The Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has expressed concern for the missing crew and their families.

'This is an extremely hard time for all concerned. "Once again, I send my utmost support to all those affected".

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