Two dead after helicopter crashes in Lambeth


Police claim it was ‘miraculous’ the death toll was not much worse.


By Sophie Devonshire

TWO people have been killed after a helicopter crashed into a crane in central London – with police claiming it was ‘miraculous’ the death toll was not much worse.

About 90 firefighters attended the scene after the helicopter hit the top of the crane of The Tower, One St George Wharf shortly after 8am.

Police confirmed the pilot and one person on the ground had died while 13 others were treated for minor injuries, with six taken to hospital.

“It was something of a miracle that this was not many, many times worse,” said Metropolitan Police Commander Neil Basu.

A spokesman for London Heliport at Battersea said the pilot had requested to divert and land there due to bad weather after earlier taking off from Redhill, Surrey.

Eyewitnesses reported that the helicopter appeared to be flying erratically before hitting the crane, part of which is now lodged in the side of a residential building, currently under construction.

Part of the helicopter also landed in Wandsworth Road, hitting two cars and causing a huge fire ball, with firefighters rescuing one man from his burning vehicle.

Eyewitnesses claimed there was low cloud at the time of the crash but no fog, with the nearest weather observation site, at London City Airport, reporting 700m visibility at a height of 100ft.

“My first thought was something had happened at M16 headquarters because there was this huge explosion and then I saw this huge fire ball,” said eyewitness Raj Tiawana.

“It was quite cloudy but not foggy, though you couldn’t really see the top of the building where the helicopter hit.

“I was pretty scared for a while and the first thing you think of is terrorism but police soon had things under control.”

Another eyewitness Richard Kennedy claimed emergency services were on the scene ‘in less than five minutes’.

“After the incident everything just went quiet,” he said. “All you could hear were sirens and people just seemed in shock at what had happened.”

Meanwhile, prime minister David Cameron – responding to a question from Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey – said he would look into rules for helicopter flights over central London.

“I think the point she makes about the rules for helicopter flights and indeed other flights over our capital city, I’m sure they will be looked at as part of the investigations that will take place,” he said.

“She’s right that it’s not an issue for today, but inevitably it’s something that has to be carefully looked at.

“The whole House will wish to join with me in sending their thanks to the emergency services for their rapid and professional response to this situation.

“I think everyone can see from the terrifying pictures on our televisions this morning, just how quickly the emergency services responded and how brave and how professional they were in the way they responded.”

The incident caused widespread travel chaos in the area with Vauxhall station and bus station both closed and major diversions in place on the roads.

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