Two people were killed after a helicopter hit a crane and crashed in central London on Wednesday morning, hitting two cars travelling in the Vauxhall area, police said. At least nine more people have been reported injured at the scene.
A helicopter crashed into a crane on top of one of Europe's tallest residential blocks in central London on Wednesday, killing two people as it burst into flames and threw plumes of smoke into the foggy air.
Eyewitness reports said at least two cars were on fire at the scene of the crash near an apartment block under construction on the banks of the River Thames at Vauxhall, where a huge plume of smoke billowed into the sky.
"Two people have been confirmed dead at the scene," London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement. One of the two victims was in the helicopter. At least nine other people have been injured at the scene.
“This is a serious, major incident for central London,” FRANCE 24 correspondent Benedict Paviot said, adding emergency services evacuated the immediate area following the crash due to gas concerns. “The future American embassy and the MI6 building are both in the vicinity,” she added.
Photographs taken shortly after the crash showed a trail of flames on the ground and debris strewn across the road. “The incident happened in foggy conditions and low cloud,” Paviot said.
The crane was on top of a new apartment building called The Tower at a development called One St George Wharf.
Police said there was nothing to indicate that the crash was linked to a terrorist attack on London. In 2005, 52 commuters were killed in rush hour suicide bombings.
‘Devastating to watch’
Paul Ferguson, who was working in an office near the incident, said: "There was a flash and the helicopter plunged to the ground. It exploded and you can imagine the smoke coming out of it."
He told BBC News: "It was probably heading from the nearby heliport. It may be that on this misty morning the lights on nearby St George's Tower weren't on and it moved and clipped the edge of the crane and lost control."
Another eyewitness said he saw a car explode with someone apparently trapped inside.
Steve Carslake said: "We heard a mighty bang, looked up and saw the helicopter just catch the edge of the crane. It didn't hit the tower block itself, it hit the crane and then just came down in a fireball. There was a great big lot of black smoke everywhere and there were a couple of cars. We heard someone was actually trapped in the car. We went to run towards the car and there was just a large explosion again. "It was quite devastating to watch, I'm afraid," he told BBC radio.
Video footage taken at the scene showed the arm of the crane missing.
A construction worker said he saw the helicopter fly over the Thames towards the building and then he heard a crash and saw parts of the aircraft including a door fall to the ground, as well as pieces of scaffolding.
"I saw the helicopter fly across the Thames and then it made a tour, when it hit the crane," he told AFP news agency. "I heard it hit the crane. I went (under cover) so the scaffolding didn't hit me."
The crash was causing long tailbacks on roads during the morning rush hour. Train services were also seriously disrupted and Vauxhall station was temporarily closed due to the incident.
Date created : 2013-01-16