This morning in London a helicopter crashed into a crane and exploded into a ball of flames.According to The Telegraph, the crane was on St. George’s tower, and the helicopter itself was an Agusta 109. The pilot and one person on the ground were killed, and six more people have been taken to the hospital, according to officials.
Police say the helicopter was on a commercial flight from Surrey. A spokesman for the London Heliport at Battersea said the pilot, Peter Barnes, requested to divert and land there because of the foggy weather.
The Associated Press reports that Barnes, 50, made a career flying in films including “Saving Private Ryan” and the James Bond movie “Die Another Day.”
“He was a very highly skilled pilot, one of the most experienced in the U.K., with over 12,000 flying hours,” Philip Amadeus, managing director the executive helicopter charter business RotorMotion, told the AP.
The tower is in the busy Vauxhall section of the city, and close to the headquarters of spy agency MI6.
Twitter user @craiglet posted this picture from across the street:
A witness told The Guardian that the helicopter “ripped the scaffolding [crane] in half like a piece of paper. You could see the helicopter was distressed before it got to the building …
“You couldn’t see the light on the top [of the building]. It was like it [the helicopter] was blinded. You could see that it didn’t know which way to turn and it just sliced in to the building. And it sounded like – you know that sound when someone drags their nails down a blackboard but it was even worse. I was like a screeching…It was slicing into the metal of the tower.”
Twitter user @tom_avis posted this picture of the broken crane.
Two cars on the ground are also said to be part of the crash.
Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey believes the crash should lead to a review of helicopter flights over London.
“The river is the motorway for helicopters,” Hoey told The Telegraph. “Maybe we’ve come to take it almost for granted that people have the right to take their helicopter over London any time they want. The regulations are very clear about helicopters not flying less than 500ft away from structures and so on.”
The Guardian has an article discussing the strict rules governing helicopters in central London.
Here’s The Associated Press video from the scene:
And here’s is a clearer view of the aftermath:
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