Five people found dead in the wreckage of a missing helicopter in Snowdonia are from the same family - leaving six children without parents today, MailOnline can reveal.

Millionaire couple Kevin and Ruth Burke, who own the aircraft, are believed to have been on board when it came down en route to Ireland from Britain yesterday.

The three other people on board have not been officially named by police but friends fear the other victims are Mr Burke's two brothers and one of their wives who are thought to have been on their way to a Christening in Dublin, the Daily Mail reports.

A spokesman for the family said: "Six children have lost their parents in this tragedy.

Advertisement

"At this stage the family wants to be left alone to be able to deal with their grief over this terrible loss and concentrate upon looking after the children."

Police and a mountain rescue team found the wreckage in Snowdonia's Rhinog Fawr mountains near Trawsfynydd lake, which is one of Britain's largest reservoirs.

Their twin Squirrel red helicopter is believed to have left the Burke's Milton Keynes home yesterday afternoon heading to Dublin, where Mrs Burke is from, via Caernarfon Bay.

But it lost contact as it passed over North Wales, which was battered by gale force winds, heavy rain and had visibility of less than 10 metres in places because of low cloud.

It had been due to refuel in Wales before continuing to Ireland, according to reports, and the five on board are said to have been travelling to a Christening, according to the Irish Independent.

Police, mountain rescue teams and other personnel are still at the scene, but may have to call off the recovery overnight due to the weather and terrain.

A spokesman for the force in North Wales confirmed all the victims were adults and from the same extended family in Milton Keynes.

Supt Gareth Evans said: "Owing to the nature and remoteness of the terrain, the poor weather conditions and the absolute need carry out this delicate task with sensitivity and dignity this may take some time.

"Their recovery is not just important to their families, but also the investigation as it may help identify any contributory factors.

"Formal identification is yet to take place and this may take some time.

"All the families of those on board the aircraft are being supported by specialist Police Family Liaison Officers and fully updated with developments."

A joint investigation led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is now underway and a no-fly zone has been enforced.

The helicopter is owned by Staske Construction Ltd, which is run by Mr and Mrs Burke, and they rent out the red aircraft and others they own to TV and film crews from a helipad in the grounds of their Buckinghamshire farmhouse.

Their business has been running for 21 years and works on major projects including the local hospital and football stadium in Milton Keynes.

A family friend said today that they fear that the married couple, who have a teenage son and a daughter in her 20s, were on board with three other businessmen.

A neighbour close to their Milton Keynes farmhouse also told MailOnline: "He (Kevin) is a helicopter pilot. When I heard the news I thought it might be him. His wife is Irish and they could have been flying over there".

Speaking outside the couple's home, another man who described himself only as a close friend and refused to give his name, said: "They were both in the machine, yes."

Family friend Paul Dawes, of Over Peover, Cheshire said: "Kevin and Ruth were aboard with extended members of the family.

"They'll never make anyone like him - it's heartbreaking for the family."

Dawes said the children's uncle Paul, Mrs Burke's brother, has travelled to Milton Keynes to be with them.

The search for the aircraft was hampered by bad weather but the wreckage was located in Snowdonian mountains this morning.

Initially investigators incorrectly believed it had made it to the Irish Sea.

At a press conference this afternoon Supt Evans of North Wales Police said "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".

He said the exact location of the crash site was not being revealed to allow recovery of the bodies from the "very difficult and challenging terrain".

The helicopter is believed to have taken off from this heliport on the couple's land near Milton Keynes, where their construction business was based. Photo / Google
The helicopter is believed to have taken off from this heliport on the couple's land near Milton Keynes, where their construction business was based. Photo / Google

An extensive search of the Irish Sea and Snowdonia was launched at about 4.15pm on Wednesday (local time) after the distress and diversion system lost radar contact with the privately-owned Twin Squirrel aircraft.

Evans said: "Initially, it's last known position was believed 'over sea' in the Caernarfon Bay area but this was then narrowed to a land-based search coordinated 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."

He added: "I'm sure you'll appreciate this is an agonising time for the families and friends of all involved.

"Our thoughts are very much with them at this time."

The helicopter is owned by Staske Construction Ltd in Milton Keynes, which is run by Kevin and Ruth Burke, who rent out several aircraft to film crews.

Their home is a large farmhouse on the outskirts of Milton Keynes with three helicopters parked in the grounds.

There was no answer at the property, which had seven cars on the drive.

Close friend of the family Michael Jones appeared close to tears when asked about the family and said: "Now is not the time."

The couple, who have a son Jamie and daughter Jess, moved into their purple-painted mansion just before Christmas 2016, following two years of construction, having built the home from scratch.

Neighbour and retired electronics engineer Richard Mann, 78, briefly served with Kevin on Hulcote and Salford Parish Council, where Mr Burke was the vice-chairman for several years.

"It's very worrying what's happened" he said. "They moved into the house just before Christmas. It took them two years to build."

At a neighbouring property, Silver Birches, a teenager said: "Have you come about Kevin?"

An adult man then told the reporter to leave.

On a footpath sign adjoining the property, a notice says an application has been made by Brook Farm House for a bund, to reduce noise to the property from the M1.

The helicopter had been due to land in Weston Airport on the Dublin - Kildare border.

Having searched for almost 12 hours, the sea operation was called off just before midnight on Wednesday.

The search was scaled back overnight due to poor weather conditions but North Wales Police and mountain rescue teams are continuing to search on the ground.

HM Coroner for north west Wales Mr Dewi Pritchard-Jones has been informed and opened an investigation.

Supt Lewis added: "The location is not easily accessible for vehicles and so we are asking for the local and greater community's continued support in staying away from the immediate area to allow emergency services and personnel access.

"Whilst we are undertaking the removal of the bodies we ask the family's privacy and dignity during this process be respected and repeat our notification that a temporary exclusion zone over the crash site with a height of 5,500-foot above sea level and a 5 nautical mile radius is currently in place.

"In short, we are advising to keep away from the immediate area so together with the AAIB we can gather all the evidence to help establish how this tragic event occurred.

"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."

Just over two weeks ago, a separate major search operation was launched here after the Coast Guard's Rescue 116 helicopter crashed near Blacksod off the coast of Mayo.
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, was recovered from the sea shortly after the accident but she was later pronounced dead.

And last Sunday the body of Captain Mark Duffy, 51, was recovered from the wreckage of the cockpit by divers.

The funeral of Mr Duffy, a father of two from Louth, is taking place in Dundalk this morning.

The search for the remaining two crew, CiarĂ¡n Smith, 38, and Paul Ormsby, 50, is ongoing and has been hampered by challenging weather conditions.

The tragedy occurred when the Sikorsky S92 helicopter disappeared on its way to refuel at Blacksod on March 14, as it prepared to help in a medical evacuation mission.