Helicopter smashes skyscraper crane in central London, 2 dead (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Authorities have confirmed that one of the dead was the pilot of the helicopter and the other was inside the high-rise building the crane was attached to.
The RotorMotion helicopter charter company identified the pilot as 50-year-old Peter Barnes, an experienced pilot who during his career flied in several Hollywood blockbusters including the James Bond movie “Die Another Day” and "Saving Private Ryan.”
The second victim is believed to be 39-year-old Matthew Wood from South London.
Out of the nine who were injured in the incident, one is in a critical condition and the rest have light injuries.
London authorities told Reuters that although the investigation is in the early stages, there is “no suggestion of terrorism.”
Witnesses describe seeing the helicopter crash into a crane on St George Wharf tower before plummeting to the street below and bursting into flames, showering the surrounding area in rubble. Several cars were also caught in the ensuing fire.
The London Fire Brigade arrived in significant numbers and managed to put out the blaze and rescue a man trapped in a burning vehicle.
A spokesperson for the Fire Brigade said 60 firemen were involved in a “large response.”
Police cordoned off the area as the crane is currently said to be in a "precarious position."
Reports on Twitter also described gridlocked traffic around the crash site blocking the entry of emergency service vehicles.
Wandsworth Road, which runs past Vauxhall Station, has been closed in both directions and people are being evacuated from the surrounding area.
The London Police say that the commercial helicopter had been diverted from its original destination to the nearby Battersea helipad.
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Smoke rises from debris as police and emergency services attend the scene of a helicopter crash in Vauxhall, south London January 16, 2013 (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)
Members of the emergency services attend to the scene of a helicopter crash in London, on January 16, 2013 (AFP Photo / Carl Court)
Emergency services attend the scene of a crashed helicopter in Vauxhall, London January 16, 2013 (Reuters / Neil Hall)
A damaged crane is seen on the St George's Tower in Vauxhall, south London January 16, 2013 (Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)