Helicopter rescue (file)
Helicopter rescue (file)Ofer Zidon/Flash 90

A major sea search is underway off the West Coast of Ireland after a coastguard helicopter carrying 4 crew members went missing.

One crew member has been found in critical condition but the seach continues for the other 3 crew members of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter that went missing while helping evacuate a man from a fishing boat.

Contact was lost at around 1am while the helicopter was supporting another helicopter called out for a medical evacuation 150 miles west of Eagle Island in County Mayo.

Two more helicopters - from Sligo and Shannon, as well an Irish Air Corps plane, are hunting for the Dublin-based aircraft as well as five fishing boats and lifeboats from Ballyglass and Achill.

The Coast Guard reported that the missing R116 helicopter was providing safety and communication support - known as "top cover" - for the early morning mission because it was so far out to sea.

Both helicopters had refuelled at Blacksod before flying out to help the fishing boat.

Shane Ross T.D, Ireland's Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: "As the search for the Dublin-based helicopter R116 is currently underway I would like to express my sincere support and sympathies for all those involved, particularly those family members who are awaiting news of their loved ones."