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Update: Helicopter which crashed last night took off from Gillingham Hall

PUBLISHED: 18:07 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 18:07 14 March 2014

The helicopter crash scene at Gillingham.  Picture: James Bass

The helicopter crash scene at Gillingham. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A helicopter which crashed last night in Gillingham has been confirmed as taking off from nearby Gillingham Hall.

According to the Register of Lords’ interests, Lord Ballyedmond, who was killed in the crash, owned the stately home.

Police received a call at about 7.30pm Thursday 13 March 2014 from a member of the public who reported hearing the noise of a loud crash off the A143.

The helicopter has been confirmed as an Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter. The four occupants, all males, sadly died in the crash. Next of kin have been informed but formal identification of the deceased is yet to take place. Family Liaison Officers are providing support to relatives.

The crash scene is a considerable area of around 150-200 square metres, including ploughed fields and the main A143 east of the Gillingham (McDonalds) roundabout.

A significant cordon remains around the site. Debris has been found on the road and so a number of closures remain in place so the area can be searched. This is being prioritised so that roads may be reopened as soon as possible to minimise disruption to local people.

The police on behalf of HM Coroner are working with partners, including the Air Accident Investigation Branch, to investigate the circumstances surrounding this incident. Close examinations of the scene are taking place at the moment, including support from forensic officers.

Detectives with specialist skills from the Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team are leading the investigation to support the Coroner, whilst local officers maintain the cordons and manage traffic.

Silver commander Superintendent Dave Marshall said: “Police, along with our emergency service colleagues and the Air Accident Investigation Branch are now working towards the dignified removal of the four bodies which is expected to take place this afternoon, full examination of the scene and opening roads as quickly as possible.

“The cordon is in place to keep areas sterile and allow the investigation to be carried out sensitively and safely. We would ask that these cordons are respected so our inquiry can continue and further distress to the families is minimised.

“We appreciate the difficulty that the road closures will create and we apologise to those people that have been affected. As soon as it is appropriate to reopen the nearby roads we will do.”

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