BELFAST, March 14 (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's richest man Edward Haughey was among four people killed when a civilian helicopter crashed in eastern England on Thursday evening, the pharmaceutical company he owned said on Friday.
The helicopter came down in Norfolk, 180 km (112 miles) northeast of London, in what witnesses told the BBC was foggy weather. Four males died in the crash, local police said.
Among them was Haughey, 70, a member of Britain's upper house of parliament who was Northern Ireland's richest man with an estimated wealth of £600 million ($1 billion), according to the Sunday Times newspaper's annual Rich List.
Haughey, who also served in the upper chamber of parliament in the Irish Republic where he was born, was the founder and chairman of Northern Ireland-based Norbrook Laboratories, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company in the world.
The company employs over 1,700 people and former Northern Ireland economy minister Reg Empey said Haughey had brought quality employment to the British province during the "darkest days" of its 30 years of paramilitary violence.
"This tragic accident has cut short the life of a man who had still much to give," Empey said in a statement.
The crash occurred some 70 km (45 miles) from the crash in January of a U.S. military helicopter on a training mission in which its four crew members died.
Last November, 10 people died when a helicopter crashed into a crowded bar in Scotland's second city, Glasgow. ($1 = 0.5997 British pounds) (Reporting by Ian Graham, additional reporting by Stephen Addison in London; Editing by Padraic Halpin and Mark Heinrich)