Two killed after helicopter collides with crane in Vauxhall, London

A stunt pilot and one other person were killed today after a helicopter collided with a high-rise crane in central London and plunged more than 700 feet to the busy streets below.

Pete Barnes, who has piloted helicopters for movies such as Die Another Day, was alone in the aircraft amid thick cloud when it clipped the structure on top of one of Europe's largest skyscrapers.

The AgustaWestland 109 Power hurtled to the ground and exploded into flames just yards from Vauxhall Station, claiming the lives of Mr Barnes and another person on the ground.

Captain Pete Barnes, who died when his helicopter collided with a crane in the mist of Vauxhall, London.

Scotland Yard named the second man as 39-year-old Matthew Wood from Sutton, south London.

A total of 12 people were also injured, including one person with a broken leg, although police said it was a "miracle" more were not injured.

Kevin Hodgson, who worked alongside Mr Barnes on life-saving missions with the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA), said: "Pete was as good a guy as you can imagine and one of the best pilots I've ever had the pleasure of flying with."

The damage crane hangs precariously from the St George's Wharf building. Credit: ITV News

In the aftermath of the crash, questions were raised over the safety of aircraft flying over London, especially as the number of high-rise blocks being built increases.

But sources said lights fitted to the crane were in place and were checked twice daily - including yesterday.

Emergency services at the scene of the helicopter crash in south London. Credit: ITV News

Commander Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "It was something of a miracle that this was not many, many times worse."

But in one case of good fortune, it was reported that the crane driver avoided near-certain death because he was late for his shift and had not reached his cabin.

Witnesses described hearing a loud bang and a flash of light as debris scattered across the sky and the twin-engine aircraft crashed near Wandsworth Road.

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A helicopter clipped the crane at St George’s wharf and crashed onto the street outside my house.

Video footage and photos flooded on to social media sites revealing chaotic scenes, burning wreckage and vehicles charred by flames.