Wales

Five Snowdonia helicopter victims' bodies recovered

Ruth and Kevin Burke Image copyright Facebook
Image caption It is believed Ruth and Kevin Burke and the rest of the group were travelling to Dublin

The bodies of five family members killed in a helicopter crash have been recovered from a remote mountainside in north Wales.

Police have confirmed the passengers as Kevin and Ruth Burke, Donald and Sharon Burke, and Barry Burke. They are all from the Milton Keynes area.

Poor weather and "challenging" terrain at the Rhinog Mountains in Snowdonia had hampered recovery efforts.

The search began on Wednesday when the aircraft vanished in north Wales.

The crash site is a two-hour walk and "scramble" from the nearest road.

In all, 80 personnel have been involved in the recovery work, including forensics police officers, air accident investigators, RAF personnel and mountain rescue volunteers.

The victims' bodies have been taken to a hospital mortuary.

Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption The location of crash site in the Rhinog Mountains

Ch Insp Richard Green said family members have been informed so the "very-difficult process of formal identification" could begin.

"Our thoughts remain with the extended family and their friends," he said.

"I would also like to thank the police officers and mountain rescue personnel, not just for their dedication and skill in very-trying conditions, but also the dignified and compassionate manner in which the whole operation was conducted."

Experts from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are on site and it is understood the recovery of the aircraft could take about three days.

The wreckage will then be transferred to its base at Farnborough where the investigation will continue.

The Twin Squirrel helicopter was registered to Kevin and Ruth Burke, who are believed to have been directors of the Milton Keynes-based Staske Construction company.

The group was travelling to Dublin, where Ruth Burke was born.

It is believed Kevin Burke was originally from Manchester and was a qualified pilot.

Image copyright AirTeamImages
Image caption The Twin Squirrel helicopter

The helicopter had left a private airfield in the Milton Keynes area before losing radar contact at about 16:00 BST on Wednesday and crashing in the Rhinog Mountains, between Harlech and Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd.

A mountain rescue team found the wreckage.

North west Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard-Jones has opened an investigation.

Police have appealed for anyone in the Trawsfynydd area between noon and 13:00 on Wednesday who may have heard or seen the helicopter to contact them.

Ch Insp Green said the crash site was "precarious" on a steep slope at about 700m (2,297ft) above sea level.

He said the weather had made the task of getting personnel and equipment to the site "very difficult and potentially dangerous".

"This process, even in perfect conditions, is still delicate and methodical as we search for any evidence that could help explain the cause of the crash."

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Media captionHulcote councillor Richard Mann describes the mood in the Burkes' village

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