The Augusta 109 civilian helicopter apparently hit the crane on top of a
building in Vauxhall, south London, Scotland Yard said.

After “cartwheeling to the ground”, it sent screaming residents,
commuters and construction workers running “for their lives” as
burning wreckage and aviation fuel covered the road.

There is no suggestion it is terrorism, police said. The crash site is located
close to MI6’s main building.

Witnesses suggested that the helicopter, which is reported to just be carrying
the pilot, had plunged more than 60 storeys to the ground as the crane
remained precarious.

It then hit two cars, which have been left abandoned and charred amid reports
one driver was trapped. Firefighters were able to rescue him from his car
before he was rushed to hospital.

The crane was on top of a building called The Tower, in the St George Wharf
development, and is billed to be one of Europe’s tallest residential towers.

Amid a massive rescue operation, a plume of smoke was seen billowing into the
sky above the area.

While it appears there were foggy conditions, the building has been under
construction for some time.

There were suggestions that the helicopter, was flying low throughout the
area, which is in one of the busiest parts of the capital.

It is thought to be heading to the local Battersea Heliport.

The crash has caused travel chaos as roads were shut and the local bus station
was closed. Local gridlock meant that emergency services struggled to get
through.

Fire and rescue services said they were taking “lots of emergency calls”
as eyewitnesses described seeing grey smoke towering into the sky, close to
Battersea Bridge, in Vauxhall.

More than 60 firefighters and eight fire engines are tackling the blaze.

(@Man_on_crack)

Pictures showed plumes of black smoke billowing into air after the crash,
which occurred near Vauxhaull Bus station.

Roads have been closed as emergency services scrambled to the scene.

A witness, Aaron Cane, told BBC Radio Five Live: “I heard a big crash and
I looked up.

“There was a massive ball of flames. It is chaos. I just saw the helicopter
hit the floor.”

Nicky Morgan, the MP for Loughborough, said she heard a “big bang”
and then saw a “cloud of thick black smoke”.

Mrs Morgan said she initially feared it was a bomb-blast.

“I did actually wonder if it was a bomb explosion,” she told BBC
News. “It was such a big bang.”

Mrs Morgan said the emergency services reacted “extremely quickly”
and were on the scene within minutes

A resident in a nearby building, who only gave his name as Colin, said: “I
was having breakfast… when I heard a loud explosion. I looked out the
window and there was a massive plume of smoke.

“It had hit the tower and continued flying down. When I heard the
explosion I was not that concerned as there building happening all the time.
But when I saw the smoke I didn’t know what to think.”

Another witness Quinn Murray, added: “The helicopter hit the top of the
crane and then came down. I saw smoke and fire. I am completely shocked.”

An image circulated on Twitter showing the aftermath of the helicopter
crash in south London
(@tom_avis)

Another commuter described seeing a “large plume of dark grey smoke”
as she crossed Battersea Bridge at around 8am.

She said: “I was coming across the bridge and basically I could see a few
cyclists on the bridge looking towards the water.

“I looked over to see what they were looking at and could see a pall of
grey smoke coming from the south side.

“You could see a large plume of dark grey smoke.”

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.

“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.”

An Augusta 109 helicopter

Another eyewitness Chris Matthison said: “There was some damage to the
crane. It’s possible the crane is lying across Nine Elms road.

“The top of the nearest building is steeped in mist and difficult to see.”

He added: “I heard a very unusual dull thud, then there was silence. The
silence really took my imagination. Emergency services responded very
quickly.”

Erin Rogers was waiting at a bus stop outside Vauxhall station.

He added: “It was a bit surreal actually. I just had a coffee in my hand,
I looked up, heard a bang and saw bits of crane debris falling to the floor.

“Then the helicopter was in flames. The rest of the people at the bus
station were looking on going ‘What was that?’.

“It’s something I will never forget for a long time.”

As rush-hour traffic built up, the A3036 Wandsworth Road in Vauxhall was
closed in both directions between Vauxhall Cross and the Lansdowne Way
junction.

Transport for London said buses in the Vauxhall area were subject to diversion
and delays due to the incident. People were advised to avoid the area and
seek alternative routes.

The First Capital Connect train company warned its passengers to expect travel
difficulties in the Vauxhall area, although its services were not affected.

A Met police spokesman said: “Police were alerted at approx. 08.00hrs on
Wednesday 16 January re. an incident at Wandsworth Road SW8.

“At this early stage it appears a helicopter was in collision with a
crane on top of a building.

“Met officers, the ambulance service and the London Fire Brigade have
attended.”

He added: It is too early at this stage to confirm any casualties.

“We will confirm further details on the incident as soon as possible.”

A London Ambulance spokesman added: “At 8am today (16 January 2013) we
received a number of calls to reports of a helicopter crash on Wandsworth
Road.

“We have sent a motorcycle responder, seven ambulance crews, our
hazardous area response team, the air ambulance’s medical team in a car and
four officers to the scene, with the fist crew arriving in under four
minutes.

“Sadly two people have been confirmed dead at the scene.”

He added: “We have treated two patients for minor injuries and they were
taken to St Thomas’ Hospital.”

Flying conditions this morning were reflected in the fact that London City
Airport in Docklands had delays due to poor visibility.

Helicopter crashes in Vauxhall, central London – Telegraph.co.uk
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