A helicopter has crashed into a crane working on Broadway Malyan’s Vauxhall Tower in Vauxhall, South London this morning at 8am
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said ‘at this early stage it appears a helicopter was in collision with a crane on top of a building’.
‘It’s too early at this stage to confirm any casualties.’
Sources say two people have died and eleven are injured.
The London Fire Brigade confirmed they were called at eight o’clock this morning and were attending the scene on Wandsworth Road.
Vauxhall underground station has been evacuated.
The 180m-tall skyscraper, officially One St George Wharf tower, is set to become London’s tallest residential-only building.
Brookfield, the project’s main contractor, declined to comment on the incident. Broadway Malyan was unable to comment.
Dubbed ‘the battery’, the cylindrical tower started on site in March 2010 and is scheduled for completion in June this year (2013).
A spokesman for the skyscraper’s developer, Berkeley Group said: ‘We can confirm a helicopter collided with a crane at St George Wharf at 8am this morning. Our thoughts at this time are with the friends and families of those killed and injured in this tragic incident.
He added: ‘Emergency services are on the scene and authorities are investigating the circumstances. We are offering our full support and assistance to the emergency services.’
Local MP Kate Hoey, who opposed the tower project, said: ‘We do need to recognise that having a different skyline in London means that things may have to be different about who can go where. The regulations are very clear about helicopters not to be flown less than 500ft from structures and so on.’
At Blauel Architects, 300 metres from the crash, staff described the impact on the local area.
‘We didn’t see the crash but we can see the traffic. It’s terrible for the people involved.’
They added: ‘Not everybody is in yet because of that [the traffic].’
Charles Graham of Rolfe Judd, which is based in nearby Oval, said: ‘We can see the tower from the front door of the office. I travel in on the railway line that it landed next to and must have passed that point a few minutes before it happened. By the time I got out of the underground at the office it was gridlock.
He added: ‘The cloud base and mist was incredibly low at the time, could only see the bottom 20 floors of the tower at 8.45am.’
Eva Ravenstein of Squire and Partners – which recently won planning for a £400 million skyscraper scheme in the area – said: ‘One of our architects cycled through the detour and saw flames.’
She added: ‘We are all glued to our screens watching, [it’s] just awful.’
Chris Romer Lee of Studio Octopi said: ‘Thankfully I was going in other direction this morning but I do pass along Wandsworth road regularly. Just passed on train and area is in shut down. Sainsburys closed, police cordons etc.’
On Twitter Darren Cairns said: ‘Helicopter crash - saw the mayhem, smoke, fire and lots of blue lights as the train passed Vauxhall.’
Also on Twitter, Arjen van der Horst said: ‘There’s busy helicopter traffic in this part of London. Helicopters normally follow Thames. The Vauxhall Tower is on south bank of river.’
Past RIBA president Owen Luder, who lives nearby, commented: ‘I can see that tower and its crane from my flat. This morning was very misty and the Shard and this tower was shrouded in mist. I was having breakfast and heard the crash about 8am but could not see anything. The sun is beginning to burn off the mist and the top of the Vauxhall tower is now visible from my terrace which faces due South and the missing top of the crane is now clearly visible.
‘I know this area very well over many years and shop at Sainsbury’s supermarket which is the other side of the railway bridge. Fortunately the helicopter crashed where it did and not on the supermarket. If it had at 8am Sainsbury’s would have been very busy and casualties very high.
‘The stretch of the road where it did crash has traffic lights controlling the entry to Sainsbury’s car park and a light pedestrian crossing. At the other end there are traffic lights controlling exit from the Vauxhall roundabout system. These three sets of traffic lights have long pauses and this often means that what is otherwise a very busy short stretch of road has very little traffic which seems to have been the case this morning otherwise a lot more cars would have been caught up in the fireball that followed the crash.
‘From my seventh floor flat I have a wide view of the Thames and helicopter traffic has increased considerably over recent years. I have been conscious that some fly very low. Also the rules, as I understand them, are that single rotor helicopters have to fly over the Thames – twin rotary helicopters do not have to. The St. Georges Tower is of course right alongside the river so the helicopter pilot would not have had to stray far off his river course and hit the top of the tower – but he should not have been flying so low.’