Helicopter crashes in Vauxhall, central London

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At least two people have died after a helicopter hit the top of a crane and crashed into the ground in a ball of flames at the peak of rush-hour in Vauxhall, south London today.

Report by The Telegraph Online

Two people, including the pilot, died at the scene with another two injured people rushed to St Thomas’ Hospital, police and ambulance said.

Witnesses reported seeing a “massive ball of flames” and a deafening “explosion” after the helicopter crashed into the ground, raining debris throughout the area.

It hit a crane in Vauxhall, south London, sending 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.

The Agusta 109 civilian helicopter apparently hit the crane on top of a building, Scotland Yard said.

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.

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.”

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.”

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