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Two killed, 13 injured in London helicopter crash

Published: Wednesday January 16, 2013 | 12:28 pm Comments 0
Debris lies on the ground after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George\'s Wharf tower building, in London, this morning. - AP Photo.
Debris lies on the ground after a helicopter crashed into a construction crane on top of St George's Wharf tower building, in London, this morning. - AP Photo.

(AP) — A helicopter crashed into a crane and fell on a crowded street in central London during rush hour today, sending flames and black plumes of smoke into the air.

Authorities said the pilot and one person on the ground were killed and 13 others injured.

The helicopter crashed in misty weather just south of the River Thames near the Underground and mainline train station at Vauxhall, and close to the headquarters of spy agency MI6.

Police said one person had critical injuries. Six were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries and seven treated at the scene.

A statement from London Heliport said the pilot who was killed, had requested to divert and land at the nearby London Heliport because of bad weather.

Philip Amadeus, managing director of RotorMotion, said the aircraft, an AgustaWestland 109, was on a commercial flight.

The company identified the pilot as Peter Barnes, 50, whose career included flying in films including "Saving Private Ryan" and the James Bond movie "Die Another Day."

"He was a very highly skilled pilot, one of the most experienced in the UK, with over 12,000 flying hours," Amadeus said. "We are devastated by the loss of a highly valued colleague and very dear friend."

The crash unfolded at the height of the morning commute, when thousands of pedestrians in the area were trying to get to work.

The Met Office weather forecasting service stated that the weather at the time was overcast and misty with fog and poor visibility.

British aviation authorities had issued a "notice to airmen" warning pilots about the crane, which extended to 770 feet or 235 meters above ground. The crane is lit at night, and police said investigators would look at whether the light was faulty.

Aviation expert Chris Yates said that weather may have played a role.

Investigators also would look at whether the crane had navigation lights.

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