Search for missing helicopter with five on board focuses on Snowdonia

The search for a helicopter that went missing over the Irish Sea with five people on board is now concentrating on the Snowdonia area.

North Wales Police said that while "police, RAF and civilian helicopters were initially utilised to conduct searches over the sea", the search "has now been confined to land in the Snowdonia area with a number of local Mountain Rescue Teams (MRT) also being used".

The operation was launched after the privately-owned Twin Squirrel aircraft went missing on Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the aircraft had departed from Luton but "failed to arrive at its intended destination in Dublin".

It is believed the helicopter was flying via Caernarfon Bay and two UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopters were scrambled.

The aircraft, based at Caernarfon and St Athan, were sent to scan the area between Caernarfon Bay and the Dublin shore.

All vessels on that route at the time, across the Irish Sea, were asked to report any sightings.

Superintendent Gareth Evans said: "All available Police, Mountain Rescue and other civilian resources are currently being utilised and we are grateful for the assistance and cooperation of the public as well as our MRT volunteers who are searching very difficult and challenging terrain.

"Five people are believed to be on board this 'private' flight and specialist Police family liaison officers are in contact with family members.

"At this stage we are not revealing their names and our thoughts are very much with their families at this difficult time."

The Twin Squirrel is described as a light utility helicopter.

Introduced in the mid-1970s, it is said to need little maintenance and has a reputation for durability.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.

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