FIVE passengers who died in a helicopter crash in Snowdonia have been named.
Kevin and Ruth Burke, aged 56 and 49, Donald and Sharon Burke aged 55 and 48 and 51 year old Barry Burke all lost the lives in the "tragic" incident on Wednesday. The helicopter crashed in the Rhinog Mountains of Snowdonia.
North Wales Police recovery officers assisted by local Mountain Rescue Teams and HM Coastguard completed the recovery of the bodies this afternoon.
Chief Inspector Richie Green, at North Wales Police, paid tribute to the "professionalism, bravery and skill" of all those involved in what has been described as a challenging and distressing operation.
He said “Shortly before 3.30pm this afternoon the last of the five who were on board the helicopter were recovered and they have now been transported to a local hospitals mortuary.
"Thames Valley Police Family Liaison Officers have informed family members and we can now begin the very difficult process of formal identification. We’ll continue to support the family and I’d simply ask both media and public alike to respect their privacy at this time. Our thoughts remain with the extended family and their friends."
Chief Inspector Green added: “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.
"Now all the bodies have been recovered the joint investigation with the Air Accident Investigation Board will begin in earnest to establish how this accident happened."
The crash site will remain cordoned off until the helicopter is full recovered - it is currently under Police and RAF guard.
A temporary exclusion zone over the crash site with a height of 5500 foot above sea level remains in place but has been reduced to a two mile radius.
"Recovery of the helicopter will begin, weather permitting, this weekend," Chief Inspector Green added.
"The work will led by the AAIB whilst North Wales Police will prepare a file for HM Coroner and assist the AAIB investigation.”
An appeal is being made to anyone who was in the Rhinog Mountains area of Snowdonia between 12pm and 1pm on Wednesday, March 29 and to those who may have heard or seen the helicopter.
Contact North Wales Police via the live web chathttp://www.north-wales.police.uk/contact/chat-support.aspx or telephone 101.