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Helicopter crash: Pilot had asked to divert aircraft

A car that was damaged during the helicopter crash. Picture: AP Photo/Vince Pol A car that was damaged during the helicopter crash. Picture: AP Photo/Vince Pol

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
12:11 PM

The pilot of the helicopter which crashed in central London had requested to divert and land at London Heliport at Battersea due to bad weather, a spokesman for the owners of the heliport said today.

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Debris lies on the ground after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building. Picture: AP Photo/Vince PolDebris lies on the ground after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building. Picture: AP Photo/Vince Pol

Two people died and several were injured today when the helicopter crashed in central London after the pilot attempted to divert due to bad weather.

The helicopter spun out of control and crash-landed after clipping a crane on top of one of Europe’s tallest residential towers.

It fell from the sky before exploding into flames, plunging on to Wandsworth Road near Vauxhall station.

The owners of London Heliport at Battersea said they received a request via Heathrow air traffic control from the pilot asking to divert due to bad weather.

A spokesman for Aldersgate Investments, the company owned by the billionaire Reuben Brothers, which owns London Heliport, said: “Just before 8am today a helicopter crashed in central London close to Vauxhall Bridge.

“The helicopter involved in the accident was not destined for the London Heliport.

“However, we received a request from Heathrow air traffic control to accept the helicopter, which had asked to be diverted due to bad weather.”

He added: “The London Heliport never gained contact with the helicopter.”

The heliport will be closed for the rest of the day.

Police said the helicopter was on a scheduled flight from Redhill, Surrey, to Elstree, Hertfordshire.

The two people killed were the pilot and someone on the ground, emergency services said.

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

Addressing a press conference near the scene of the incident, Commander Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “I can confirm the pilot has been killed.”

He added: “The helicopter was on a scheduled flight from Surrey. It was scheduled to fly from Redhill to Elstree but it was diverted.”

He added: “It’s possible it was diverted to another helipad.”

Mr Basu said the police force were working with other agencies including the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and the Civilian Aviation Authority.

Asked if the lights on top of the building and crane were faulty, Mr Basu said: “That will form part of the investigation.”

Pauline Cranmer, operations manager at London Ambulance Service, said: “The second fatality was not in the building. It was in close proximity to the helicopter.

“We believe there was one person in the helicopter and that person has died.”

Peter Cowup, assistant commissioner at London Fire Brigade, said: “One driver was able to get out of his own free will and leave the scene. He was injured but we understand he’s fine.”

He added: “Aircrafts and helicopters do contain hazardous materials. There is no reason for anyone to be afraid of hazardous materials in the air.”

London Ambulance Service has confirmed six people were treated in hospital for injuries, including a broken leg, while seven other casualties were treated at the scene.

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