Helicopter crashes into crane on London tower, kills two

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:43am EST
 
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By Michael Holden and Brenda Goh

LONDON (Reuters) - 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.

Police said there was nothing to indicate that the crash on the south bank of the River Thames was linked to an attack on London, where 52 commuters were killed in rush hour suicide bombings in 2005.

"There was a really loud bang," said Julie Marsden, who works in an office building near the crash site which is close to landmarks such as the headquarters of Britain's MI6 international intelligence agency and the Houses of Parliament.

"We saw the crane fall to the ground and this massive plume of black smoke," Marsden told Reuters.

London's police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said there were 11 casualties including two dead and one critically injured. The fire service said it had rescued a man from a burning car near Vauxhall train station, a major commuter station on the south side of London, shortly after 0800 GMT.

Hogan-Howe said the helicopter had been diverted to a helipad in Battersea, near the crash site. He declined to give further information until relatives had been informed.

"We're treating it as a major incident," he told the London Assembly.

Rezart Islami, 27, a construction worker from Kosovo who had been on a nearby site, said he saw the helicopter flying fast up the river before it smashed into the crane, span out of control and hit the ground bursting into flames some seconds later.   Continued...

 
Smoke rises from debris as police and emergency services attend the scene of a helicopter crash in Vauxhall, south London January 16, 2013. A helicopter crashed into a crane near a railway station in central London during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, bursting into flames and throwing plumes of smoke into the air. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth