London helicopter crash: Eyewitness reports
- 16 January 2013
- From the section London
A helicopter has crashed into a crane on top of a 50-storey building in Vauxhall, central London, showering the street with burning debris and aviation fuel and leaving two people dead and nine others injured.
Vauxhall station has been closed and several buildings were evacuated.
The crash happened in a busy part of London at the height of the morning rush hour and was witnessed by many residents, workers and commuters.
Here people describe what they saw and heard.
Steve Carslake told BBC Five Live he saw the aircraft hit the crane after he got out of a van in Mill Street.
He said: "We heard a mighty bang, looked up and saw the helicopter just catch the edge of the crane.
"It didn't hit the tower block itself, it hit the crane and then just came down in a fireball. We ran round the corner. There was a great big lot of black smoke everywhere and there was a couple of cars.
"We heard someone was actually trapped in the car. We went to run towards the car and there was just a large explosion again.
"It was quite devastating to watch, I'm afraid. It was very, very sad to watch."
Drew Lovell was in his van on the way to picking up waste bins in St George Wharf when he heard the helicopter hit the crane.
"I heard the helicopter and it was absolutely deafening. It sounded like it was above the van so I reversed it up and got out," he said.
"I heard a massive big bang. I could hear the rotas going then suddenly nothing. I looked again - it was like slow motion - and there was a massive plume of black smoke, so I jumped out of the van and ran across.
"It was carnage, absolute carnage.
"There was a guy walking towards me, he'd just made it through bridge and he was smouldering. He must have been thrown off the motorcycle. He was worried about his motorcycle as it was leaking oil on the floor.
"I tried to help him, his back was on fire, the back of his coat was melted."
Mark Osbourne, from Metropolis Motorcycles, a bike shop near the scene, said he ran to try to help the injured.
"There was lots of wreckage and fire," he said. "I saw a woman on a motorcycle that must have missed the carnage by six feet. It felt like a war movie, it was surreal.
"The police arrived within minutes so the response was excellent."
Nicky Morgan MP
Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan told BBC News: "I was walking towards Vauxhall tube station from Lambeth Palace area where I have a flat.
"There was suddenly an enormous bang - I thought something exploded. It was coming from beyond Vauxhall Tube station.
"Then clouds and clouds of black smoke. I presumed what it was I heard was the crane collapsing or the helicopter crashing into it. I heard the bang then saw the clouds of smoke but there was too much in the way to see much at that point."
Michael Gavin, who was waiting for a train on a platform at Vauxhall station, said: "I heard the bang - the top of the crane was obscured by the fog so I did not see the impact but I did see the helicopter falling to the ground along with pieces of the crane.
"It was really quite shocking - there was a group of us on the platform waiting. We could not see where it hit because it was blocked by a wall at the end of the station.
"There was a lot of worried people around. I must have been on one of the last trains to get out.
"There was a lot of smoke for about 15 minutes."
Market worker Andrew Ross said: "I was going about my business at work and I saw a helicopter.
"I heard a loud bang and I saw this helicopter falling out of the sky.
"Then I heard a loud bang and an orange glow and lots of smoke coming up.
'Crane hanging down'
"It was flying below cloud cover - it was still foggy and a little bit dark.
"There was just a loud bang then the helicopter just fell out of the sky.
"I can see part of the crane on the building hanging down."
Angela Henderson was also on a train platform at Vauxhall.
She said: "I was walking on the platform looking up at the tower and noticing the top was shrouded in mist.
"As I was looking up I heard a massive sound - I thought [it] must be a bomb.
"What really struck me was what fell down. I saw a huge cylindrical object - it looked like a Zeppelin. A huge object plummeted to the ground and as it landed it was surrounded by debris.
"Then it was just silence and everybody ran to the edge of the platform.
"There was a huge bang then we saw a huge plume of smoke just getting bigger and bigger."
Electrician Rob Easton said: "I was working in the arches. I heard an almighty bang.
"I saw the reflection in buildings of a lot of smoke then I went down to the side gate and there was a fireball in the road.
"People were panicking and they were evacuating buildings nearby."