The Washington Post

Helicopter crash ignites blaze in central London

A helicopter crashed into a building site in a bustling quarter of central London about 8 a.m. Wednesday, igniting a massive blaze that claimed two lives and snarled rush-hour traffic in western Europe’s biggest city.

At least nine people were hospitalized with injuries.

Dramatic television images of the crash site held Britons in thrall, showing smoke pluming from the city's dense Vauxhall neighborhood.

Dozens of firefighters were dispatched to fight the flames, and by late morning the blaze appeared to be under control.

Scotland Yard said the helicopter apparently crashed after hitting a crane on top of a building.

A blaze ignites the scene shortly after a helicopter crashes in the Vauxhall area of central London after hitting a crane on top of a tower, according to eye witness reports. (Toby Scott, PA/Associated Press)

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that the pilot of the helicopter, who was en route from Red Hill Heliport in the southern quadrant of the city to the north London suburb of Elstree, had requested permission to land at a site not far from the crash site due to bad weather.

“I looked to the left-hand side and there were cars, three cars, on fire, people screaming, shouting and hollering, and the next thing I know there are police, ambulances and everything, everywhere and people going crazy,” Craig Dunne, who was heading to work at the time of the accident, told the BBC.

“It’s madness, absolute madness.”

Anthony Faiola is The Post's Berlin bureau chief. Faiola joined the Post in 1994, since then reporting for the paper from six continents and serving as bureau chief in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, New York and London.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.