Monday 24 July 2017

One of five passengers onboard the crashed Dublin-bound helicopter believed to be Irish

  • Wreckage located - police confirm
  • Remains of five people on board also found
  • Businesswoman 'originally from Dublin'
  • Location of wreckage not being revealed at this time
  • Families of deceased being supported
The helicopter disappeared off the radar while en-route to Dublin
The helicopter disappeared off the radar while en-route to Dublin
Vehicles parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
A vehicle parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Vehicles parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
A footpath leading up the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales where the search for theTwin Squirrel helicopter was focused early on Thursday (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The helicopter which went missing while on-route to Dublin has been found police have confirmed.

"Sadly we can confirm that the wreckage of the helicopter that went #missing yesterday has been located along with the bodies of 5 people," North Wales Police said in a tweet this afternoon.

Two people feared to be on the helicopter are Kevin and Ruth Burke from Hulcote, near Milton Keynes, close to where the helicopter took off.

The couple are directors of Staske Construction Limited which is the registered owner of a red Twin Squirrel.

Graphic: Press Association
Graphic: Press Association

When contacted, a woman who answered the phone for the company said "we are not going to talk to you, we are not going to talk to anybody regarding the crash".

Neighbour Elizabeth Thornley, who lives near to the couple's home, which is close to the registered address of Staske, said they had not lived at the property long and had been "doing up the house for about a year and a half".

The 24-year-old said she does "not know them that well" as they "keep to themselves" and that she often sees them "driving in and out".

"I saw lots of cars this morning," she said, telling the Press Association that with a lot of livery yards close by, she thought someone might be going to a show.

A footpath leading up the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales where the search for theTwin Squirrel helicopter was focused early on Thursday (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
A footpath leading up the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales where the search for theTwin Squirrel helicopter was focused early on Thursday (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

"Then one of the neighbours said 'have you heard about the crash, the helicopter crash?' I thought it had crashed into a horse's paddock, but they said no, Kevin's had crashed."

On what is thought to be her Facebook profile Mrs Burke states she is originally from Dublin - the city which should have been the final destination of the helicopter.

A vehicle parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
A vehicle parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

However, on the online registration for Staske Construction Ltd Ruth and Kevin Burke are named as directors and they are both listed as having British nationality.

One Hulcote local resident who did not give his name said Mr Burke was originally from Manchester, a pilot himself, and has left behind a 14-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter.

Vehicles parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Vehicles parked outside the Llanberis Mountain Rescue station in the Snowdonia mountain range in north Wales (Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Another neighbour, Richard Mann, who lives close to the couple's home, said he and Mr Burke had both previously been Hulcote and Salford Parish Councillors.

"They moved into the house just before Christmas, they have been building it," the 78-year-old said.

"Kevin, I think, is a very astute businessman, outgoing - hail fellow well met - always seemed very cheery."

He said that it has been a "total shock" hearing the news, adding that he "hasn't quite taken it in".

Earlier the search moved inland amid fears it may have gone down over land.

Police and mountain rescue teams had launched a major search after the helicopter failed to arrive in Dublin on Wednesday afternoon after leaving the Luton area.

Superintendent Gareth Evans, of North Wales Police, said the details of the victims were not being released by police but specialist officers were supporting their families.

In a statement released following a press briefing police said:

"The exact location is not being revealed at this time to allow a dignified and unhindered recovery of the bodies in what is described as very difficult and challenging terrain."

“The aircraft, a red Twin Squirrel helicopter had failed to arrive in Dublin from Luton yesterday afternoon instigating a full sea and then land search and rescue operation," Supt Evans said.

"Initially, its last known position was believed ‘over sea’ in the Caernarfon Bay area but this was then narrowed to a land based search co-ordinated by North Wales Police in Snowdonia involving all local and RAF Mountain Rescue Teams.

"Local conditions were described as atrocious with visibility down to less than 10 metres in places.   My thanks go out to the professionalism and commitment of all those personnel involved in this operation.

“Formal identification has not taken place so details of the passengers are not being revealed at this time. Families of those on board the aircraft are being supported by specialist Police Family Liaison Officers. 

"Our thoughts are very much with them and on their behalf I ask you respect their privacy at this very difficult time.  HM Coroner for north west Wales Mr Dewi Pritchard-Jones has been informed and he has ‘opened’ an investigation.

“The terrain where the aircraft has been located is remote and in places hazardous.  I’d also like to thank the local community for their support and assistance but I’d also ask people to refrain from visiting the area as it is now subject of a full investigation led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch to establish what led up to and caused this tragic event.

“We are also appealing for help from the public and local communities and so I’d ask if anyone sighted the aircraft flying over Snowdonia yesterday to contact North Wales Police via the live web chat http://www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/chat-support.aspx or by phoning 101.”

The Department of Foreign affairs has confirmed it has not received any request for consular assistance, but stands ready to provide assistance if requested.

Police in Wales have asked members of the public to refrain from the area as it's now the subject of an investigation.

Local MP Alun Cairns also released a statement to the media expressing his sympathies.

"My thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims of the helicopter crash in Snowdonia," he said.

“The emergency services and the mountain rescue involved in the search, rescue and recovery operation have carried out their work in incredibly difficult conditions.

“I am grateful to them for their determination and dedication, and to those providing support to the families during what is a very difficult time.

“The recovery operation will be challenging. I ask that the investigating authorities be given the time and space necessary to undertake this important work.”

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News