Eyewitnesses saw the helicopter plummet to the ground and explode on impact, setting cars afire on a London street.
LONDON — A helicopter has crashed near the River Thames in London during the early morning rush hour, killing two people and leaving 13 others injured, one critically.
London police said the helicopter had collided with a construction crane on top of a tall building. Early reports indicated the crane was at St. George's Wharf, a high-rise apartment complex with apartments that offer sweeping river and city views.
Sky News said one pilot was on board the helicopter when it crashed into a crane on a building site near Vauxhall bus and train station, a major commuter center on the south side of central London. Parts of the crane are now reportedly hanging off the side of the building.
Reuters Photo: Stefan Wermuth
The pilot of the helicopter was one of those confirmed dead.
The area, roughly 10 blocks from the major Waterloo train and Underground station, is extremely congested during the morning rush hour. Many commuters arrive at the main line stations from London's southern suburbs and transfer to buses or trains there.
London's Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "We believe there are 11 casualties, two fatalities and nine less seriously injured but one is critically ill. People are presenting themselves to different places."
Eyewitnesses described seeing the helicopter plummet to the ground and explode on impact, setting fire to cars on Wandsworth Road.
"There was a flash and the helicopter plunged to the ground. It exploded and you can imagine the smoke coming out of it," Paul Ferguson, an office worker near the scene, told BBC News.
Erin Rogers, who was waiting at a bus stop near Vauxhall station, said she "heard a bang and saw bits of crane debris falling to the floor."
AP Photo: Max James Tolhurst, PA
"Then the helicopter was in flames. The rest of the people at the bus station were looking on going 'What was that?'"
Pictures posted on Twitter show a large plume of black smoke rising in the area, in foggy conditions, close to the Waterloo train station.
The BBC reports the first calls came in to the London Metropolitan Police a little after 8 a.m. and that more than 85 firefighters were attending two separate incidents at the scene. Nearby streets have been cordoned off.
"There are tons of emergency services about, and it looks like a helicopter hit a crane of one of the apartment buildings being constructed round there," said Jon Hoeksma, a local businessman.
British police said there was nothing to suggest the incident was linked to terrorism.
"There's nothing in our world at this stage," a spokesman for London's Counter Terrorism Command said. "There's nothing to suggest any terrorism link."
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