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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 06:47 GMT
Third report on 'missile' air crash
Wreckage was recovered - but many bodies remained lost
A report into one of Britain's worst air disasters which took place off the Welsh coast is due to be released on Thursday.

The Aer Lingus flight from Cork crashed into the Irish Sea in March 1968, killing all 61 people on board.

Families of the victims have campaigned for over three decades to find out whether it could have been linked to Ministry of Defence activities in Wales.

Hilary Noonan: Her father never returned home

They claim the passenger plane could have been downed by a missile fired from the defence base at Aberporth in Ceredigion.

It took three months for recovery teams to find the wreckage of the VIscount aircraft, which was flying from Cork to Heathrow when it crashed, six minutes away from Strumble Head on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Four crew and 57 passengers were killed.

The official investigation at the time ruled out explosion, fire turbulence and ice forming on the wings as likely causes, and the families of victims were left without any answers.

But attention did turn to activities at the defence base at Aberporth which campaigners claim may have been testing missles over the Irish Sea at the time of the crash.

They claim to have discovered a document which showed that bodies had been removed from the scene of the crash and secretly cremated.

A memorial  the 61 victims of the crash
A memorial to the 61 victims of the crash

Hilary Noonan lost her father in the disaster but almost 34 years after the incident, she is still seeking closure.

"Dad left Cork airport that day and never returned and never got to where he was going to.

"We have no body to bury, he just disappeared," she said.

"Once we have a reason for that accident that day, I can say for myself anyway that will give me closure."

But no evidence has ever been found of the MoD's involvement, and the ministry has said the base was closed on the day of the disaster.

The new report, ordered by the Irish government, will be the third into the 1968 crash.

Relatives of those killed will be hoping it can provide some new answers as to what happened to Aer Lingus flight no. 712, as it made its way to Wales.

A memorial those who were killed has been erected in a cemetery in County Wexford.

BBC Wales's Hywel Griffiths
"It took three months for recovery teams to find the wreckage"
See also:

19 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Irish air crash report due
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