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Two die as helicopter hits crane, crashes on London street

LONDON — Two people were killed and nine others injured when a helicopter apparently hit a crane atop a skyscraper and then crashed on a street in the U.K. capital Wednesday morning, police said.

The crash, which happened at 8 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) in the South Lambeth area of London, caused a large fire that badly damaged at least one car on the ground.

"At this early stage, it appears the helicopter was in collision with a crane on the top of a building," a spokeswoman for London's Metropolitan Police said.

She said that two people were "confirmed dead at the scene." One person was taken to a nearby hospital in a "critical condition," three others were taken to a hospital with minor injuries while five people were treated at the scene for minor injuries, she added.

Police Commander Neil Basu told reporters that the pilot of the helicopter was killed in the crash.

The helicopter struck St. George Wharf Tower, a 50-story residential block that is still under construction.

In a message on Twitter, London Fire Brigade said they had "rescued a man from a burning car at the scene of the helicopter crash."

In a statement on its website, the fire brigade said 60 firefighters, eight fire engines and four rescue vehicles were sent to the area.

“Firefighters are also attending reports of a crane in a precarious position,” it added.

A photograph posted on Twitter that purported to be of the scene showed an area of fire on a road with a large plume of smoke rising up.

'Massive explosion'Craig Dunne, who was on his way to work at the time of the crash, told BBC News that there had been “a massive explosion.”

“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. It’s madness - absolute madness,” he added. He said the crane was “in pieces.”

Robert Oxley, who was also near the site of the crash, told the U.K.'s Sky News that he could see the damage to the crane from the ground.

"There a very low-hanging cloud which actually means you can barely see the top of the building ... I can see parts of the crane hanging down," he said.

Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said that visibility in London ranged from near zero to 3 miles.

The crash scene is close to the London Heliport, a commercial airbase on the south bank of the city’s River Thames.

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See more photographs from the scene of the crash