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Fireball, Panic As Helicopter Crashes In London

A firefighter walks toward some of the wreckage at the scene of today's helicopter crash in London.
Andy Rain
A firefighter walks toward some of the wreckage at the scene of today's helicopter crash in London.

At least two people were killed today in London when a helicopter struck a tall crane, exploded and came crashing to the ground in a ball of fire.

Reporting from London, NPR's Philip Reeves tells our Newscast Desk that "the wreckage landed close to a very busy commuter station at Vauxhall, and not far from a rail line running into Waterloo. ... Several cars caught fire."

The crash happened around 8 a.m. local time. It was a "cold, misty morning," Phil adds.

According to the BBC, at least nine people were injured and one of the fatalities may have been a person who was on the ground. It adds that "the incident caused gridlock with all approaches to the Vauxhall Cross one way system closed at the height of the rush hour and Vauxhall Tube station and railway station closed, though the stations have since reopened."

Mark Osbourne, who works at a bike shop near the scene, tells the BBC that:

"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 Guardian has this account from a man who says he saw it all:

"Eyewitness Michael Krumstets was walking on his way to work when he saw the helicopter hit the crane and come hurtling towards him, landing feet away on the ground.

" 'The helicopter nearly killed me and my flatmate,' he [said]. 'We were right next to it, just feet away from where it exploded.

" 'We were walking to work and saw the helicopter clip the top of the crane — there was a loud crack — and it came spinning out of control towards us. I just can't believe what I saw, it was awful.

" 'When you see a helicopter hurtling out of the sky towards you, spinning, your legs turn to jelly, you have a sense of shock. My flatmate fell over, I had to run back to grab him. It missed us by just a few feet, it was just so lucky.' "

The Associated Press has some video from the scene.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.