Funeral taking place of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick

THE funeral is taking place this morning at St. Patrick's Church in Glencullen, Co. Dublin, of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick.

Ms. Fitzpatrick died after the Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter crashed off the Mayo coast on Tuesday. Her death evoked a sense of deep sorrow across the nation.

Mourners include Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins.

Several members of the Coast Guard formed an honour guard prior to the service at 11 a.m.

Also present are members of the RNLI, Civil Defence, mountain rescue and many other groups.

The funeral Mass will be followed by cremation at Mount Jerome Crematorium.

May her gentle soul rest in peace.

Search efforts are continuing today in Blacksod Bay despite poor weather conditions.

A sea scan will take place tomorrow from 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Three members of the crew - Ciarán Smith, Mark Duffy and Paul Ormsby - remain missing after the helicopter accident in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

According to a report in today's Irish Independent, officials are probing whether the Rescue 116 helicopter tried to make an emergency landing at Black Rock lighthouse before the fatal crash.

It is believed that Captain Dara Fitzpatrick made a desperate attempt to save her helicopter and crew when it encountered 'catastrophic' difficulties, the report stated.

The search continues for the Coast Guard's Sikorsky S92 aircraft and the bodies of three men who have not been found since the helicopter disappeared without warning off Co. Mayo early on Tuesday.

Debris has been located on Black Rock, a small island with a lighthouse and helipad 13km west of Blacksod on the Mayo coastline where the helicopter was due to refuel.

Investigators are now examining the theory that the aircraft suffered a sudden and serious mechanical failure which forced an emergency landing.

It comes as officials hope a 'three-hour window' between low tides will be sufficient to find the submerged aircraft, amid fierce weather conditions.

They believe they have identified from preliminary sonar scans and beacon triangulation data the main wreckage of the downed Irish Coast Guard helicopter on the seabed.

Naval Service and salvage experts are now 'very hopeful' that the bodies of the three missing Rescue 116 crewmen will be found trapped within the wrecked fuselage of the helicopter.

The wreckage lies at a depth of 40 metres, some 60 metres off Black Rock Island and lighthouse.