Five members of an extended family were feared killed when their helicopter crashed over North Wales while on a trip to Ireland, it has emerged.
Husband and wife Kevin and Ruth Burke are thought to have been in the red Twin Squirrel aircraft when it vanished from radar screens on Wednesday yesterday, friends said.
It is now understood the couple had also been joined on the trip by Mr Burke’s two brothers and one of their wives.
They were believed to have been travelling to Dublin, where Mrs Burke was born, for a christening with three other adult family members.
Police yesterday confirmed the wreckage of the helicopter along with the bodies of five people had been located in the Rhinog mountains near Trawsfynydd, in Snowdonia, on Thursday.
However the search was set to be suspended until today because of poor weather setting in and the potentially hazardous terrain in which the helicopter crashed.
The alarm was raised after the Twin Squirrel, owned by Mr Burke’s company Staske Construction, failed to arrive at its destination.
The Burke family are understood to have left Milton Keynes for the 250 mile flight to Dublin in order to spend the weekend in the Irish capital.
Police that the couple’s two teenage children were not on board
North Wales police told the Telegraph: “The five victims are all adult and part of the same extended family from the Milton Keynes area.”
Superintendent Gareth Evans, of North Wales Police, said the victims had not yet been formally identified and that their families were being supported by specialist officers from Thames Valley Police.
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."
Mr Evans said the exact location of the crash site was not being revealed in order to allow recovery of the bodies from the "very difficult and challenging terrain".
A spokesman for the family told the Milton Keynes citizen: “Six children have lost their parents in this tragedy. 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.”
A full investigation into the cause of the crash will be led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and a team of inspectors has been sent to the site.
An extensive search of the Irish Sea and Snowdonia was launched at about 4.15pm on Wednesday after the distress and diversion system lost radar contact with the aircraft.
Mr 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."
A tearful female employee at the home of Kevin and Ruth Burke last night told reporters the "whole family died".
Workers could be seen coming in and out of the gates to the property at Brook Farm, Hulcote, near Milton Keynes, which houses a helicopter landing pad.
Mr Burke's mobile number was listed on the outside wall but the middle-aged woman asked people outside not to call it.
Asked if he was the only family member who had died in the crash, she started crying and said: "No, the whole family died."
A barmaid at a nearby pub, The Swan, Salford, said: "They were lovely people and were well known in the village. They used to eat and drink here."
One Hulcote resident, who did not give his name, said Mr Burke was originally from Manchester, was a pilot himself, and had a 14-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter.
Richard Mann, another neighbour, said he and Mr Burke had both previously been councillors for Hulcote and Salford parish.
He said: "Kevin, I think, is a very astute businessman, outgoing, hail-fellow- well-met, always seemed very cheery."
North Wales Police have established a temporary exclusion zone over the crash site at a height of 5500 foot above sea level and a 5 nautical mile radius.