Fatal plane crash probe launched


The scene at Cork Airport after six people, including a relative of Ireland's President, died in a plane crash

Air accident investigations are trying to piece together the final minutes of a plane crash which left six people dead.

Among those killed at Cork Airport was Brendan McAleese, a relative of Ireland’s President Mary McAleese, and two other Northern Ireland businessmen.

The 18-seater turboprop crashed in thick fog on its third attempt to land.

Sources close to the investigation named the pilot as Jordi Gola Lopez from Spain and English co-pilot Andrew Cantle, believed to be from York.

Another of those killed in Thursday’s crash was Pat Cullinan, originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone, and a partner in leading accountancy firm KPMG in Belfast. Among the victims was Captain Michael Evans, Deputy Harbour Master in Belfast. Another British citizen also died.

Grief stricken relatives of those killed are expected to begin bringing their bodies home.

Aviation experts from Dublin and the UK are to join forces to examine the crash site, wreckage and the final minutes of the Manx2 flight from Belfast. Spanish authorities are also expected to be involved.

Mr McAleese, who owned the Central Laundries business in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was a cousin of Dr Martin McAleese, the husband of President Mary McAleese. He was married with a young family. Six other people were injured – two miraculously walking away from the mangled wreckage – when the 18-seater turboprop crashed on landing in thick fog.

Mrs McAleese and Taoiseach Brian Cowen expressed their shock and sadness at the tragedy – the worst on record at an Irish airport.

“I am especially conscious of the pain being experienced tonight by all of the bereaved as one of the deceased was Brendan McAleese, my husband Martin’s cousin,” the President said. “To the survivors also we send our heartfelt wishes for a quick and full recovery from the immense trauma they have experienced.”

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