Saved by oversleeping: The Vauxhall crane drivers who SHOULD have been in their cab when helicopter struck it

Cameron announces review of flight rules

Two workmen were last night thanking 'divine intervention' after they escaped almost certain death when a helicopter crashed into their crane and turned into a fireball.

Richard Moule and Nicki Biagioni were late for work and hurrying to climb the crane in Vauxhall when the helicopter clipped the structure and plunged 700ft to the ground, killing pilot Peter Barnes.

A second man who died in the accident was named by Scotland Yard last night as Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, south London, who is believed to have been walking to work when he was killed.

The crash, which happened at around 8am yesterday in heavy fog, claimed two lives -the pilot Captain Pete Barnes, 50, and Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton, South London – who was passing by – died at the scene.

Twelve other people were injured and police said it was a "miracle" more were not hurt when the helicopter fell to the busy rush-hour streets.

David Cameron has announced a review of rules governing flights over central London today after the accident.

Yesterday police said it was a 'miracle' that the death toll was not higher.

The stricken helicopter hit St George's Wharf Tower, slicing through the crane 'as if it was a piece of paper' and covering the streets below with burning wreckage, just yards from Vauxhall tube station in south London.

The crane driver Mr Moule, 31, a father of two from Harlow, Essex, was supposed to be at work at 7am with his colleague Mr Biagioni, 30, but both were late, the Daily Mail said.

"It was the first time I've been late since starting this job three years ago. I just woke up late. Call it divine intervention if you like," Mr Moule told the newspaper.

He said he was in the building's basement ready to go up when the accident happened and he was evacuated. He said: "The first thing I did was call my wife Stephanie and tell her, 'You'll be hearing about this but I'm OK.' She gave me a big hug when I got back home."

Mr Biagioni, from Ongar, Essex, was late because his four-year-old son, who usually wakes him up, slept in, The Sun said.

His wife Leanna told the paper he phoned her to say he should be dead. She said: "Nicki was at the site minutes before it happened. He gets a lift to a certain level and then climbs a ladder the rest of the way.

"If he'd been climbing he would have died from the fall for certain. It's too horrible to think about."

Stunt pilot Mr Barnes, 50, from Berkshire, who has piloted helicopters for movies such as Die Another Day, was alone in the aircraft amid thick cloud when it clipped the crane. It came down on land near to the building, with burning wreckage strewn across the road.

The helicopter was undertaking a commercial flight from Redhill, Surrey, to Elstree, Hertfordshire, but Mr Barnes asked to be diverted to Battersea heliport because of bad weather.

It emerged today that up to 40 people who were asked to leave their homes because of yesterday's crash have spent the night away from their homes.

Police said that the debris from the crash was scattered over a large area in South Lambeth and that some homes remained inaccessible.

 

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