Helicopter crashes in Wandsworth Road, London: photos and news
A HELICOPTER has crashed in central London. Why? How?
Two people are dead. One of them is the pilot. Another person is critically ill.
The Mail gives the pilot a showbiz bio:
RotorMotion pilot Pete Barnes, 50, worked on films such as Die Another Day, Tomb Raider II and Saving Private Ryan
Rolling news quote of the day:
BBC News 24 anchor stating: “This is the last thing a helicopter pilot would want to happen.”
The helicopter hit the crane on the St George Wharf development in Vauxhall in thick fog shortly after 8am.
The aircraft was a AgustaWestland AW109, a lightweight, twin-engine helicopter with eight seats.
Chris Yates, an independent aviation expert, told Sky News:
“Helicopters are not supposed to come within 500 feet of any structure such as a high-rise building, so we don’t know what caused the pilot to get quite so close. We don’t know the circumstances he was operating in at the time – whether there was a problem with the helicopter itself, whether he misread his instructions or received false instructions from air traffic control.”
Guido Fawkes wonders if the lights atop Vauxhall tower was on. Tweets from last year suggesting that sometimes it was not.
Mark Louis Sidney told Sky News:
“I heard a loud bang, I looked up and saw bits of propeller and parts of the aircraft falling off it and then plummeting down. Then a plume of smoke went up. I called the emergency services. It happened in a matter of a seconds before it was on the ground. I thought ’Wait a minute, has this thing been shot out of the sky or what?’. I could see the top of the crane was shaking on the top of the building. It was very foggy so the helicopter probably couldn’t see it.”
Chris Matthison tells the BBC:
“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.”
Michael Krumstets tells the Guardian:
“The helicopter nearly killed me and my flatmate. We were right next to it, just feet away from where it exploded. We we were walking to work and saw the helicopter clip the top of the crane – there was a loud crack – and it came spinning out of control towards us. I just can’t believe what I saw, it was awful. When you see a helicopter hurtling out of the sky towards you, spinning, your legs turn to jelly, you have a sense of shock. My flatmate fell over, I had to run back to grab him. It missed us by just a few feet, it was just so lucky.”
Mike Moody (Times):
“We woke up to the sound of an explosion and then screems. (I) looked out of the window and saw a woman screaming, saw the smoke and we ran for it basically. I’m still in my pyjamas with my jeans over the top. The smoke was very very close to our flat; it was literally the building next door and so we went outside and we saw there was till what sounded like explosions – I assume it was the cars. There was a land rover, a black land rover that was on fire at about 5 to 10 metres from my door, just on the corner of Miles Street and Wandsworth road which were people trying to put out but other people were saying we’ve got to move because that will explode. Some of the construction workers from where the crane was told us just basically said everyone move now this is really, really dangerous. Go. We left. ”
“There was someone in the range rover that was on fire but he got out. It was only a small fire on the bonnet at the time. He was taken out of the car by the consturction workers, they pulled him out. It looked like Baghdad. Lots of people screaming, crying. No-one really sure what was going on. I rang my mum at 5 minutes past 8 and we left at 6 minutes past 8 because that’s when I rang her back to say we’d been told to move.“
BBC journalist: “Did you think it was a terrorist attack…?”
Sarah-Beth Casey told Sky News:
“You’re always worried about things like 9/11 and things like that. I have three small children with me in the flat. It’s one of your fears that something like this can happen. When I heard the explosion – it was like a little earthquake … a gas explosion. I looked up to see debris falling off the tower.”
Ray Watts (Times):
“It looked like 9/11 with bits falling everywhere. There was about 20 of us outside the building and we all started running. Some went into the security hut but it was just a wooden shack so they soon got out. I just legged it across the road and when I looked back I saw the crane boon land on my truck. There was stuff coming down everywhere.”
The Government announcement
From: Government Whips Admin Unit (HOC)
Sent: 16 January 2013 08:47
Subject: Travel disruption
Following a helicopter crash in Vauxhall this morning colleagues should be aware there will be serious travel disruption in the area.
You may need to leave earlier in time for the deferred division.
Government Pairing Whip
Witnesses said the helicopter – which left Gatwick Airport, Sussex, at 7:36am and was heading to Elstree, Hertfordshire, to collect an executive – was using the route of the River Thames and hit a crane at the top of the tower near Vauxhall Bridge in Vauxhall, central London, at 8am.
Pilots flying helicopters over London are subject to air traffic control clearance. If they are flying over central London they must have twin-engined aircraft. Those flying one-engined aircraft must follow the route of the River Thames when operating in the capital.
HELICOPTER ROUTES IN THE LONDON CTR AND LONDON/CITY CTR
A section of the Crane lays in Nine Elms Lane, after crashing to the ground close to St George’s Wharf tower building, where a Helicopter crashed into this morning, in Vauxhall south London.
General View of Rotormotion at Redhill Aerodrome in Surrey from where the helicopter piloted by Pete Barnes set of before crashing to the ground close to St George’s Wharf tower in Vauxhall, South London after the pilot attempted to divert due to bad weather.
Undated handout photo of the AgustaWestland 109 (AW109) Power