Helicopter crash: Rules for helicopter flights over central London need to be looked at, says Prime Minister

13:06 16 January 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron said the rules for helicopter flights over central London would need to be carefully looked at following this morning’s fatal crash in Vauxhall.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he also paid tribute to the “brave and professional” response of the emergency services after a commercial helicopter hit a crane on a high-rise building.

Questioned by Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey on the need to look, in the future, at helicopters flying through the capital in light of its changing skyline, with increasing numbers of skyscrapers, he agreed it was not a question for today but needed to be examined.

The Prime Minister told the Commons: “I think the point she makes about the rules for helicopter flights and indeed other flights over our capital city, I’m sure they will be looked at as part of the investigations that will take place.

“She’s right that it’s not an issue for today, but inevitably it’s something that has to be carefully looked at.”

He also praised the scores of firefighters, police and ambulance crews attended the accident, in which two people were killed and 13 were injured when the helicopter crashed down onto a street.

Mr Cameron told the Commons: “The whole House will wish to join with me in sending their thanks to the emergency services for their rapid and professional response to this situation.”

And he said: “I think everyone can see from the terrifying pictures on our televisions this morning, just how quickly the emergency services responded and how brave and how professional they were in the way they responded.”

Earlier, Mr Cameron’s official spokesman told a regular media briefing in Westminster: “The Prime Minister was very saddened to learn of the fatalities and injuries in this incident.”

He had been informed of the incident shortly after it happened, the spokesman said.

Asked whether the Prime Minister would order an investigation, the spokesman said the emergency services were taking the lead role in the initial response, and the usual investigations which take place after all such events will be undertaken.

The crash happened less than a mile down the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament and its aftermath was witnessed by a number of MPs.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris, who has a London flat just yards from the crash site, said: “I was reading my science and technology papers at around 8am when I heard a loud bang. Initially I was not aware of what happened, then it became apparent that a helicopter had crashed around 100-150 yards away from my flat in Vauxhall.

“This morning I am incredibly shaken. My thoughts are with those directly involved.”

Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan was walking towards Vauxhall when the accident happened.

She told BBC News she realised something “dramatic” had happened because of the thick black smoke.

“Within a minute there were sirens, so you felt that the emergency services were immediately reacting, which was comforting. It is a terrible, unexpected tragedy.

“I wondered if it was a bomb explosion.”

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