Eddie Haughey, Northern Ireland's wealthiest entrepreneur and head of Norbrook Laboratories, is among four victims of a helicopter crash in eastern England last night.
The incident happened in thick fog in Norfolk at about 7.30pm. The helicopter was reported to be on its way to Northern Ireland and was carrying Dr Haughey, now Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne in Co Down.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Police said: "It's a civilian helicopter, and there were four occupants on board who are all thought to have died in the crash." The East of England Ambulance Service said: "Sadly, it is believed that four people in the helicopter are believed to have died in the crash. Ambulance resources have now been stood down from the scene. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives tonight."
The founder and owner of veterinary pharmaceuticals giant Norbrook, Dr Haughey was included in the 2011 Sunday Times rich list and reported as having a personal fortune of some £650 million (€780 million). Norbrook is based in Newry, Co Down, but also subsidiary plants on both sides of the Border.
He lived outside Rostrevor, Co Down on the shores of Carlingford Lough. He was also a former member of the Seanad, nominated by former taoiseach Albert Reynolds and later by Bertie Ahern. Lord Ballyedmond is also reported to have been the owner of an air travel company.SDLP Assembly member Karen McKevitt said: "I am deeply saddened about the news reports about the untimely death of Lord Haughey tonight."