Irish woman and husband among five helicopter crash victims
AN Irish woman, her husband, and three other family members have been killed in a helicopter crash in Wales.
Ruth Burke and her husband Kevin, who ran a construction company, are believed to have died in the crash along with Mr Burke's two brothers and one of their wives.
It is understood they were travelling to Dublin for a christening when the crash happened. A major search of the area was launched on Wednesday afternoon when the privately-owned Twin Squirrel aircraft failed to arrive at Weston Airport in Lucan, Co Dublin.
North Wales Police said five bodies were found along with the wreckage of the helicopter in the Rhinog mountains near Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia yesterday.
Mr and Mrs Burke, who live in Hulcote near Milton Keynes, are directors of Staske Construction - the registered owner of a Twin Squirrel.
Mrs Burke was born in Dublin but went to school in Milton Keynes. Mr Burke was originally from Manchester and was a qualified pilot. It is understood they have a 14-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter.
A spokesman for North Wales Police said the five victims were part of the same extended family from the Milton Keynes area.
They have not yet been formally identified but their families are being supported by specialist officers from Thames Valley Police.
Police said last night they might have to suspend recovery of the bodies until this morning due to worsening weather conditions and "treacherous terrain".
An investigation led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch is also under way.
Superintendent Gareth Evans, of North Wales Police, said: "Owing to the nature and remoteness of the terrain, the poor weather conditions and the absolute need to carry out this delicate task with sensitivity and dignity this may take some time."
He added: "This is a very difficult, challenging and hazardous operation but I'd like to reassure the families of the deceased and local communities that, together with the AAIB and our mountain rescue teams, and weather permitting, we will continue to work as long as it takes until they are all recovered and to this end I'd like to repeat my thanks to all those personnel involved for their professionalism and commitment."
Mr Evans said the exact location of the crash site was not being revealed to allow recovery of the bodies.
A temporary exclusion zone over the crash site is currently in place.
A neighbour of the Burkes, Elizabeth Thornley, who said the couple "keep to themselves", told the Press Association she saw a lot of cars near the house yesterday morning.
The 24-year-old said: "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."
Another neighbour, Richard Mann, said he and Mr Burke had both previously been Hulcote and Salford parish councillors.
He said: "Kevin, I think, is a very astute businessman, outgoing, hail-fellow-well-met, always seemed very cheery."