Two dead, 13 hurt after helicopter crash

Black smoke fills the sky following the incident Photo: @bottle_bohemia

Two people died and 13 people were injured today when a helicopter crashed into a crane in central London and plummeted to the ground.

Witnesses reported seeing debris falling from the sky after the aircraft struck the crane before exploding into flames and plunging to a street near Vauxhall station in rush hour.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe confirmed that there were two deaths, one person critically injured and a number of others with less serious injuries.

What looks like tail wing section of helicopter on roof of building Credit: @paraicobrien/ Channel 4 News

London Fire Brigade station manager Bruce Grain, one of first firefighters at the scene, said it "was absolute chaos" but he revealed the fire was put out within 20 minutes.

Eight fire engines, four fire rescue units and around 60 firefighters plus officers attended the scene of the crash, a few hundred yards from MI6, on a busy road.

Firefighters rescued a man from a burning car and brought a blaze caused by the crash under control.

Four fire engines and two fire rescue units also attended reports of a crane in a precarious position. The brigade was called at 8am.

The crane was on top of a building called The Tower in the St George Wharf development, and is billed as one of Europe's tallest residential towers.

Video footage shot on a mobile phone showed an entire road blocked by burning wreckage and aviation fuel. The side of a building on one side of the street was also damaged by the flames.

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard said: "We believe at the moment there are something in the order of 11 casualties and the other reason we're a little unclear is because people are presenting to different places trying to get help."

There was some confusion around the number of people in the aircraft, although it was earlier reported that it was flying between Gatwick and Elstree with two on board.

However, a spokesman for the RNLI said London Coastguard was contacted by Battersea London Heliport, which confirmed it had lost contact with one of its aircraft.

A lifeboat was launched from the Tower RNLI lifeboat station to search the Thames but is understood to have since stood down.

Traffic chaos broke out in the wake of the incident, with Vauxhall Bridge Road southbound closed, Wandsworth Road partially closed, Nine Elms Lane partially closed and South Lambeth Road partially closed.

Vauxhall Tube, train and bus stations are also currently closed.

Cloud in central London was very low at the time of the accident, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

Forecaster Paul Knightley said London City Airport was reporting a cloudbase of just 100ft (30.5m) at 8am.

"The top of the building would have been shrouded in cloud," he said.