Recovery operation of helicopter crash hampered by weather and terrain

Specially trained recovery officers from North Wales Police and Mountain Rescue Teams are still being hampered by both weather and terrain as they painstakingly recover the bodies of those who lost their lives in Wednesday's helicopter crash in the Snowdonia National Park.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:37 pm
Credit: BBC

Chief Inspector Richie Green, North Wales Police, whose policing territory includes the Rhinog Mountains said: “The location of the crash site is both remote and treacherous.

“Access is only possible on foot, the site being approximately 4km or a two hour walk over very challenging terrain, from the last discernible road and access to this road is only possible with a 4x4 vehicle.

“The site itself, and access to it, is precarious, on a steep slope and covered in heather, lichen and moss which after the recent heavy rain is making just standing upright difficult.

“At over 700m above sea level just getting to the site involves a degree of ‘scrambling’. Weather is unfortunately worsening making the task of getting both personnel and their equipment there alone very difficult and potentially dangerous.”

“That said both Police and Mountain Rescue Teams are utterly determined and focused in recovering all those lost as quickly and as sensitively as possible so they can be reunited with their families.

“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.

“Over 80 personnel from local & RAF Mountain Rescue Teams, AAIB investigators, HM Coastguard and Police are involved and at this time the safe, sensitive and prompt recovery of all those lost is our priority.

“The families of the five people on board the aircraft are being supported by specialist Police Family Liaison officers from Thames Valley Police but formal identification has yet to take place.

“Our thoughts and condolences remain with them.”

Phil Benbow, Chairman of the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association who is assisting with the operation, added: “Trained, experienced mountain rescue personnel are finding the terrain difficult and challenging.

“There are no footpaths and the ground underfoot is treacherous in places even for the most experienced however we are all unwavering in our determination to assist reunite the families with those who lost their lives.”

The Citizen has complied with a request from a representative from the Burke family to not use photographs of the victims.