Added by Erik West on January 16, 2013
A helicopter flying a scheduled route on Wednesday morning, local time, from Surrey, UK to London in heavy fog collided into a construction crane and crashed amid what witnesses describe as a fireball.
A witness said he saw the helicopter flying at high speed when it slammed into the construction crane. The witness said the helicopter’s pilot may not have seen the crane.
“The top of the crane came off”, said a witness. Another added, “The sound of the rotors suddenly stopped when we saw a huge fireball as the helicopter crashed. Black smoke followed it down the side of the building.”
[Update] Officials reported 9 injured – with 4 taken to hospital and 5 people treated at the scene. Officials also reported that one of the people in hospital is in critical condition and that two people, including the helicopter’s pilot, were killed.
The crane was not occupied when the crash occurred – the operator was late and was preparing to climb up the crane to begin his shift when the accident occurred. The operator was not injured.
Large parts of the crane reportedly fell onto the road below, with some parts falling onto two cars. It is not known whether the cars were occupied at the time.
The crane was at the construction site of a building called “The Tower – One St. George Wharf” which is 52 floors and will have 212 luxury apartments – the building was not occupied.
The tower’s construction crew are all accounted for.
“We have done a full headcount and there are no injuries or fatalities among anyone at the site,” said a spokesperson for the condominium apartment’s developer. “We’re glad the crane operator was late today – it would have been a far different result had he been on time.”
Officials concluded early in their investigation that the crash was an accident.
Helicopters in London follow the Thames river and are not allowed to fly less than 500 ft (124m) above tall structures.
London weather conditions at the time of the accident were heavy fog, and -5 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), dew point of -5 degrees Celsius, humidity at 98% and wind from the east at 10 km/h.
Surrey, UK is approximately 30 miles (48km) southwest of the London crash site.
© 2013, ↑ The Australian Eye News