Only Two Known Fatalities
A HELICOPTER CRASHED INTO A construction crane in downtown London, England, Wednesday during the early morning rush hour, killing the pilot and one person on the ground.
Telegraph / NicO
Just moments prior to the crash, the pilot had radioed through Heathrow air traffic control for permission to divert from its flight path because of bad weather and set down at the nearby London Heliport. After receiving permission and then changing its course, the helicopter struck the 770-ft.-high crane that was working a 55-story residential tower. Besides the two fatalities, at least 13 other people were injured, one critically. By a stroke of good fortune, the crane operator was late for work today and escaped certain death by not being where he should have been.
The helicopter's owner has not yet been publicly identified, however officials have stated that it was not a military aircraft.
The horrific scene unfolded at the height of the morning commute when thousands of pedestrians were trying to get to work. The weather at the time was overcast and misty with fog and poor visibility, according to the weather forecasting service, the Met Office.
British aviation authorities had issued a "notice to airmen" warning pilots about the crane, which extended to 770 feet (235 meters) above ground. The crane is lit at night, and police said investigators would look at whether the light was faulty.
Reuters / Wermuth
The area, roughly 10 blocks from the major Waterloo train and Underground station, is extremely congested during the morning rush hour. Many commuters arrive at the main line stations from London's southern suburbs and transfer to buses or trains there.
Sky News has posted some raw video taken just after the crash:
Amid fears of a bomb attack, police quickly ruled out suggestions of terrorism. The crash site is located close to MI6's headquarters.
The Agusta 109 civilian helicopter apparently hit the crane on top of a building in Vauxhall, central London, Scotland Yard said. The top of the crane remained precarious today.
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.
Witnesses suggested that the helicopter, which is reported to have only the pilot on board, had plunged more than 60 storeys to the ground.
London Fire Brigade photo
It then hit two cars, which have been left abandoned and charred. One driver was trapped and firefighters were able to rescue him from his car before being rushed to hospital.
The Telegraph has a detailed report on the incident HERE.
Sixty firefighters on eight engines handled the fire situation.
BBC News has MORE.
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