Helicopter crash at Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall London (Videos)
January 16, 2013 in Outdoors
The emergency services are responding to reports of a helicopter crash in south London.
The London Fire Brigade said it had received multiple calls of a helicopter hitting a crane in Vauxhall.
The London Ambulance Service said it was also at the scene.
People have reported seeing a pall of smoke in the area.
Transport for London has conformed there has been an incident.
Road on fire: Emergency services were called to the scene near Battersea Bridge at Vauxhall, central London, after reports at 8am that the aircraft had hit a crane
Explosion: Witnesses reported very low cloud at the time of the accident, suggesting the pilot may not have seen the crane which was barely visible from street level
Ablaze: These were the extraordinary scenes following the helicopter crash this morning in Vauxhall, central London
Flames: This is a grab from footage of a car on fire at the scene on Wandsworth Road following the helicopter crash in Vauxhall, central London, this morning
He tweeted his shock at the collision: ‘OMG!!! In car on way to skating and just hearing the helicopter has crashed metres from my home!! Hope everyone in the area is OK.’
Local resident Colin Kavanagh told MailOnline there was a ‘huge explosion’. He was eating breakfast and looked out to see a huge plume of smoke and ‘men in fluorescent jackets running around’.
Eyewitnesses took to Twitter to report details. One said the helicopter crashed close to a railway line. Another user posted a dramatic photograph showing burning wreckage in the road.
Commuter Sherna Noah described seeing a ‘large plume of dark grey smoke’ as she crossed Battersea Bridge at around 8am.
She said: ‘I was coming across the bridge and basically I could see a few cyclists on the bridge looking towards the water.
‘I looked over to see what they were looking at and could see a pall of grey smoke coming from the south side. You could see a large plume of dark grey smoke.’
Location: This map shows the location of the tower which was hit by the helicopter on the south bank of the River Bank, next to Vauxhall Bridge
Mangled: The crane the helicopter crashed into at 8am at Vauxhall in central London. Both are pictures from today, with the right photo taken during a break in the cloud
Damage: debris was seen on the ground after the crash, and a member of the emergency services (right) was seen running towards the scene in London
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.
Chris Yates, an independent aviation expert, told Sky News: ‘Helicopters are not supposed to come within 500ft 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.’
The aircraft is understood to be an AgustaWestland AW109, a lightweight, twin-engine helicopter with eight seats.
Passers-by stood watching as the wreckage burned. A motorcycle was also lying on its side in the road having been abandoned. One eyewitness reported seeing cars on fire and hearing people screaming.
Jane Williams of Clapham, south-west London, said: ‘I arrived at about 8:30am. We were ordered off the bus and had to wander around the streets. It was like some kind of war scene. I couldn’t see anything because there were so many fire engines – not that you’d want to see anything.
‘There were just hundreds of workers in high viz jackets leaving the building site. There were just so many people. We didn’t know what was happening at first but then it just filtered through and everyone was saying a helicopter had crashed.’
Smash: A pall of smoke was visible near the River Thames in Vauxhall, London, amid reports that a helicopter has crashed
On location: Eyewitnesses took to Twitter to report details – and one user said it crashed close to a railway line
Scene: It’s believed the helicopter, which hit the under-construction The Tower St George Wharf was carrying a pilot but no passengers
Response: London Fire Brigade said it had received numerous calls about the incident and firefighters were en route to the scene
AW109: TWIN-ENGINE HELICOPTER USED FOR EXECUTIVE TRANSPORT
The fallen helicopter is understood to be an AgustaWestland AW109 Power – described by its maker as a ‘versatile’ aircraft used in commercial and military markets.
The lightweight, twin-engine helicopter has eight seats and is used for executive transport, offshore and emergency medical services, as well as surveillance and patrol missions for police forces, its maker AgustaWestland says.
The aircraft is certified for single pilot use and is allowed to perform assisted take-offs from elevated helipads, that is, helipads raised from the ground. It has a large passenger cabin with two large rear windows.
With the rotors turning, the helicopter is 43ft long and 11ft high. Its maximum cruise speed is 177 miles per hour.
AgustaWestland is an Anglo-Italian multinational helicopter design and manufacturing company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Finmeccanica.
The company has offices and plants worldwide, including its main UK office in Farnborough, Hampshire and a plant in Yeovil, Somerset.
Castle Air Charters, based in Liskeard, Cornwall, refused to comment on reports that the AgustaWestland helicopter is registered to the company. The firm specialises in chartered helicopter flights across the county and many of its aircraft are also use in London.
As rush-hour traffic built up, the A3036 Wandsworth Road in Vauxhall was closed in both directions between Vauxhall Cross and the Lansdowne Way junction.
People took to Twitter to report gridlocked traffic in the area, with emergency services struggling to get through.
The First Capital Connect train company warned its passengers to expect travel difficulties in the Vauxhall area, although its services were not affected.
Flying conditions this morning were reflected in the fact that London City Airport in Docklands had delays due to poor visibility.
Paul Ferguson, who was working in an office near the incident, told BBC News: ‘There was a flash and the helicopter plunged to the ground. It exploded and you can imagine the smoke coming out of it.
‘It was probably heading from the nearby heliport. It may be that on this misty morning the lights on nearby St George’s Tower weren’t on and it moved and clipped the edge of the crane and lost control.’
Eyewitness Chris Matthison told BBC News: ‘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.’
He added: ‘I heard a very unusual dull thud, then there was silence. The silence really took my imagination. Emergency services responded very quickly.’
Transport for London said buses in the Vauxhall area were subject to diversion and delays due to the incident. People were advised to avoid the area and seek alternative routes.
Erin Rogers was waiting at a bus stop outside Vauxhall station. He told BBC News: ‘It was a bit surreal actually. I just had a coffee in my hand, I looked up, heard a bang and saw bits of crane debris falling to the floor.
‘Then the helicopter was in flames. The rest of the people at the bus station were looking on going “What was that?” It’s something I will never forget for a long time.’
Network Rail said train services were not affected by the incident. Tube services were also running normally.
But road traffic quickly built up, with the A3205 Nine Elms Lane between Cringle Street and the A3036 Wandsworth Road being particularly badly affected. Sarah-Beth Casey lives in an apartment near the incident.
Similar: An Augusta 109 helicopter like the one that crashed in Vauxhall, central London. Black smoke filled the sky as emergency services raced to the scene
Before the crash: This is the normal view of the under-construction The Tower St George Wharf in London
TALLEST RESIDENTIAL BUILDING IN UK WITH £50MILLION PENTHOUSE
The Tower St George Wharf is a luxury development which is set to be the tallest residential building in the UK when it is completed later this year.
It will reach a height of close to 594ft (181m) over 50 storeys, with a total of 223 luxury homes.
Moment after crash. ‘Part of helicopter’ hurled across road
Confirmation of two deaths and injuries
Key footage from crash scene spreads over social media