A busy intersection in central London turned into a chaotic scene Wednesday during rush hour when a helicopter slammed into a crane, burst into flames and plunged to the ground. Authorities confirm the pilot and one person on the ground were killed in the accident. Thirteen others were wounded, at least one critically.
"It is something of a miracle that this was not many, many times worse given the time of day," police commander Neil Basu said.
The AgustaWestland 109 chopper, which was on a commercial flight from Surrey, went down just south of the River Thames near the Vauxhall train station and the headquarters of MI6. The construction crane it hit was sitting atop a 52-story luxury residential building. After the accident, the mangled crane danged from the rooftop. Police evacuated surrounding roads and buildings.
The cause of the crash remains unknown. Thick fog and poor visibility was documented at the time of the crash. The London Heliport says the pilot had requested to divert to the heliport because of poor weather conditions.
The pilot has been identified by Rotormotion, a helicopter charter company, as 50-year-old Peter Barnes. "He was one of the most highly qualified and highly skilled helicopter pilots in the UK, and his death is a great loss for the British aviation and his colleagues at Rotormotion. The thoughts of all the staff are with this family and two young children at this dreadful time,” said company spokesman Paul Blezard.
Scotland Yard said the person killed on the ground has been identified as Matthew Wood, 39, of Sutton.
The crash is under investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Bureau.
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