Tearful Leicester City fans gathered to lay flowers at the King Power Stadium today after the owner’s helicopter came crashing down to earth and burst into flames shortly after taking off from the ground last night.
The helicopter was carrying popular owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, two crew members and two passengers when it took off from the centre circle after Leicester’s draw with West Ham yesterday evening.
Police and the club are yet to release an official statement on the tragedy, but the BBC have reported a source close to the Thai billionaire’s family said he and the four others died in the crash.
Fans outside Leicester’s ground were still desperate for news on the crash today, as detectives insisted they are ‘working with a number of other agencies’ to release a statement on fatalities.
Supporters branded it Leicester’s ‘darkest day’, paying tribute to the much-loved owner who helped them to a miracle Premier League victory in 2016. As matches took place across the country today, fans fell silent in solidarity with Leicester.
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter was heading for Luton Airport where he was due to catch a flight to Thailand, Leicester sources said today.
But witnesses say they heard the ‘engine stop’ in mid-air just after take-off before the aircraft plummeted to the ground in the club’s car park at around 8.30pm.
Supporters are pictured paying tribute at Leicester City’s King Power stadium today as they wait desperately for news following owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s helicopter crashing outside the ground in the club car park last night
Leicester City fans gathered outside the stadium to pay respect this morning after the helicopter crash on Saturday evening
Fans gather outside the King Power Stadium on Sunday amid reports the club’s popular owner was on board the helicopter
A sea of scarves and flowers are laid outside the King Power Stadium on Sunday following the helicopter disaster
Fans have returned to the stadium from miles around to pay tribute to those who may have been killed in the crash. Police are yet to confirmed whether or not those on board have died
An aerial view of the crashed helicopter’s charred remains shows the aircraft partially covered by a sheet this afternoon
The scene of the crash has been sealed off by police officers with a sheet covering one end of the helicopter in the stadium’s car park
Pedestrians walk past a mural of chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha near De Montfort University in Leicester on Sunday
The owner’s family often watch the football games together. (From L-R) Leicester City Executive Director Apichet Srivaddhanaprabha, Arunrung, Voramas, Mrs Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, Leciester City Director of Football Jon Rudkin, Leciester City Vice-Chairman Khun Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
The helicopter belonging to Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham yesterday and burst into a flames
The London home of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was empty today while shocked neighbours waited for news of whether or not he was in the helicopter which crashed
A graphic shows the locations around the King Power Stadium which the crashed helicopter could have threatened
Candles, flowers and scarves have been laid out by fans of the football club. West Ham scarves have also been placed outside the stadium, hours after the crash
Fans were seen crying at the stadium in the hours following the crash as they nervously waited for news over the condition of those on the helicopter
Flowers and scarves were laid outside the King Power Stadium as anxious Leicester fans arrived at the ground this morning
Soft toys and a flag celebrating Leicester’s improbable 2016 Premier League title success are laid out on Sunday
A man and a young child lay a Leicester City shirt in a sea of flowers and scarves amid fears for the club owner’s life
Specialist police search teams line up to comb the area for clues at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on Sunday
A sea of tributes cover the ground outside the King Power Stadium, Leicester after the owner’s helicopter crashed yesterday
Vichai’s daughter, Voramas Srivaddhanaprabha (right) is the senior creative and communication manager of the King Power Group. It is not known yet if she was involved in the accident, but sources claim she was not on board at the time of the crash
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha waves to fans after a Premier League clash between Leicester City and Southampton in April 2016
Fans embraced one another while wearing Leicester colours outside the King Power Stadium this morning after the news of the crash spread
Flowers were laid on Sunday morning as reports began to emerge Mr Srivaddhanaprabha and his daughter were on the helicopter
At Selhurst Park fans stood for a minute’s applause with the Leicester badge on the screen ahead of Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Burnley and Chelsea players took part in a moment’s silence ahead of their Premier League fixture at Turf Moor on Sunday
Manchester United players and their mascot also stood in silence before their game against Everton on Sunday afternoon
Fans were gathered outside the stadium in the aftermath of the tragedy at the King Power Stadium in Leicester. A Wolverhampton Wanderers fan laid down his club’s shirt which read: ‘Divided by colours, united by grief.’
On Sunday morning fans began to arrive outside the stadium to pay tribute to those involved in the crash. Fatalities are yet to be confirmed
Flowers and tributes have been left at the scene of the helicopter crash hours after the devastating scenes at Leicester’s stadium
As Premier League fixtures resumed today there was a minute’s applause held at Crystal Palace in solidarity with Leicester, and a minute’s silence at Manchester United and Burnley, even with fans still in the dark over the outcome of the crash.
Initital reports claimed Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s daughter was on board the aircraft last night, but these have been denied by sources at Leicester City.
Outside the stadium today a sea of flowers and blue football scarves has grown as supporters continue to wait for news on the helicopter disaster – nearly 24 hours on.
Karen Kennell, 60, a primary school teacher from Leicester, said: ‘I was at the game yesterday and I was at home when I heard the news just after half past eight.
‘He’s contributed so much to the club and the city, when he first came they were in dire straits and he brought them back up to what they are today.
‘Not so long I managed to shake his hand, he and the other members of the management team were in the club shop just shaking hands with people, that was just something that they did – it’s so so sad.’
Lifelong fan Tom Fall, 53, a civil servant from Leicester said: ‘I was at yesterday game and I heard about it when I got home, it takes me about half an hour to get home and I was just getting something to eat.
‘I sat down and looked at the fans forum and someone had posted that the helicopter had crashed, I could not believe it.
‘OK so he was a businessman and many people like him take over clubs and wold be quite aloof but its not been the case with him – he developed a real connection with the fans and the community and it’s ultimately led to us winning the league.
‘He’s left a permanent mark on the whole city not just the club. If he hadn’t come we would not have had so much success.
‘The way he’s managed things has led to a family atmosphere and people come to enjoy the family atmosphere at the club. I shook his hand in the club shop before the start of the game against Seville, in a pre-season friendly.’
Andrew Stansall, 50, said: ‘I was at the game but I had left by the time it happened. I heard the helicopter take off because I live close.
‘It seems like the owner was inside. He has done so much, not only for the team but for the city. The whole town will be mourning, he will never be forgotten.’
Manny Griffin, 50, said: ‘We were devastated. It’s true he has done so much for the city – he was such a unique owner, really close to the fans. ‘All the fans will be mourning, I hope his legacy will continue. That would be great for him.’
In their latest statement on Sunday afternoon, Leicestershire Police said: ‘We understand that many people are waiting for an update about the helicopter crash at King Power Stadium last night.
‘We are working with a number of other agencies to get an update out to the public and press. Thank you for your patience and all your messages of support.’
Leicester legend Gary Lineker last night paid emotional tribute to the club he represented as a player, saying Saturday’s programme was the ‘most difficult’ edition of Match of the Day he had ever presented.
Lineker earned praise for his ‘dignity’ and ‘professionalism’ on the BBC’s highlights show, in which he also paid tribute to former England team-mate Glenn Hoddle who was taken ill on Saturday.
Following the evening kick-off game on Saturday, the helicopter was seen landing on the centre circle of the pitch
Tributes included a Leicester shirt, flowers, candles and a large image of the Hindu god Ganesh which was also propped up in amidst the flowers. outside of the ground, early on Sunday
A Leicester shirt was left at the scene close to where the helicopter which can carry eight people came crashing down
The helicopter took off from the centre circle of the pitch with stadium staff and pundits looking on – but moments later it began to spin out of control in the air
Police remain on guard as an investigation takes place into how the helicopter came crashing back down to the ground
Emergency services had battled to extinguish the fire but firefighters and police officers appeared deflated as they left the scene of the tragedy outside Leicester’s home ground
Huge plumes of smoke billowed across the night’s sky following the crash at around 8.30pm on Saturday evening
A family source told the BBC the owner was on board when the helicopter came crashing down on Saturday after his club’s game against West Ham yesterday evening. He is pictured second-left riding a victory bus through Leicester in 2016
Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (R) after the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Southampton at The King Power Stadium earlier this year
In the aftermath of the crash on Saturday night a police officer rushed towards the wreckage of the helicopter belonging to the Leicester City owner.
The unnamed officer attempted to pull open the door, to save those inside, before an ‘explosion’ turned the wreckage into a fireball and forced the Leicestershire officer back.
Local fan Leo Brooker told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘One of them was looking for something, I don’t know what he was looking for inside the car something to prevent the fire, I don’t know.
‘And the other man, the other one, he run straight away to the helicopter and he was trying to break the window of the helicopter with, I don’t know what he had in his hand, a big metal or… I couldn’t see ’cause it was too dark.
‘But one of the policemen was trying to break the window and trying to get in and the other one was inside the car looking for something and then the next minute I see the police officer he had a fire extinguisher trying to prevent the fire and i don’t know even I was still scared.
‘And then this was all going on five to 10 seconds and then there was an explosion and even the policeman and all the three or four other guys that were trying to help but they just pulled back because the fire was going too hot.’
Witnesses reported seeing the Augusta Westland AW-169 aircraft suffering engine trouble and spinning out of control shortly after it took off from the centre circle.
The pilot was today hailed as a hero after daylight revealed the helicopter had fallen on a derelict car park, rather than nearby trees, cars or part of the stadium.
A Sky Sports News cameraman said: ‘I don’t know how the pilot did it but he seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park.’
‘To my mind the pilot was heroic and the two police offers in front of me, who also tried to help, they are heroes too.’
Leicester Director of Football John Rudkin was also safe, according to Sky sources, and the team’s manager Claude Puel was also unharmed.
Initial reports had suggested Puel may have been on board but Gregory Campi, the AS Monaco Team 3 coach told Nice-Matin that he was was safe.
It is understood emergency services spent twenty minutes attempting to extinguish the flames.
The sound of the helicopter crash could be heard on a BT Sport post-match broadcast and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is said to have witnessed the crash and broke down in tears.
A huge inferno erupted after the helicopter crashed just outside Leicester City’s stadium after their 1-1 draw with West Ham
Fans were shell-shocked and some broke down in tears as the helicopter plummeted to the ground near the club’s staff car park at around 8.30pm on Saturday, shortly after Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
David Radburn who runs The Local Hero paid tribute to the club boss feared to be dead, saying: ‘He gave Leicester our dreams. We never ever thought we’d win the Premiership and we did it with his and his family’s guidance.
‘It’s a very sad time for everyone, all the Leicester City fans and local people.’ As many as 600 fans visited the pub near the ground after last night’s match in ‘decent mood after a draw’ having ‘a beer and bit of banter.’
Mr Radburn, general manager, said: ‘Then when news broke about the crash there was just silence. No one could believe it and everyone’s still in shock. There’s a very sombre mood in the city now.’
The £2million aircraft which has eight seats was spotted hovering over the south east corner of the ground before spluttering and spiraling to ground, near Filbert Way, and bursting into flames.
Spectators at the game said they witnessed the helicopter spinning out of control and that there was a problem with the tail rotor of the aircraft.
The helicopter came down near to Leicester City’s staff car park at around 8.30pm yesterday
One man, who wished not to be named, but has had a season ticket for over 40 years, told Sky News: ‘I saw Kasper Schmeichel run out first and then loads of security guards and stewards.
‘I was stood outside the ground but it crashed on the other side. I hope everyone is OK.’
Former England legend Peter Shilton and his wife witnessed the carnage unfold.
His partner Stephanie, 50, said: ‘We are both in shock on our way home. It happened straight in front of us as we were leaving the ground.
‘We don’t know what has happened. It’s horrendous. We need to know if everyone is OK. That’s the biggest thing. We just hope that everyone got out OK.’
A reporter for Sky Sports News said people were ‘running for their lives’ in the aftermath of the crash.
Rob Dorsett said: ‘The car park was certainly it was still populated with people at the time whether that was members of staff leaving the stadium or spectators watching the game. It’s so close to the stadium, a couple of hundred metres – if that – from the stands.
‘There has be to concern for people who are walking back to their cars or get buses back to the train station and any impact that would have.
‘An eye-witness and his nephew ran for their lives, they were that concerned they were going to be hit by the wreckage of the helicopter. It burst into flames as it hit the ground. There has to be concerns for people in and around the area after the game.
‘However, we must stress, the majority of the crowd would have left by that time.’
Photographs near the crash site show at least one vehicle with its windows blown out and its roof burnt.
Richard Mobbshas, 67, who has been a Leicester fan for 50 years, said: ‘I got to know him quite well since meeting him four or five years ago. He was a lovely man. I’m in shock. I can’t believe what has happened. I just broke down in tears when I heard something had happened.’
Daniel Cooke, 21, added: ‘I came to Leicester the year City won the title and remember what a wonderful time it was. What has happened tonight is going to hit this city and the club very hard.’
From left to right: Jake Humphreys, Owen Hargreaves, Chris Sutton and John Hartson in the studio at the King Power stadium following the game on Saturday. The helicopter can be seen in the centre circle of the pitch
A helicopter belonging to Leicester City football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is on fire after it crashed in the King Power Stadium car park in Leicester
The helicopter took off from the King Power stadium but just seconds into its journey, the aircraft began to spin out of control and crashed in car park E
A Wolverhampton Wanderers fan laid down his club’s shirt which read: ‘Divided by colours, united by grief.’ Hundreds flocked to the stadium on Sunday
Mr Srivaddhanaprabha made his money in retail in Thailand and his King Power duty-free shops are in every airport in the Asian country.
His departure leaving the King Power by helicopter has become a familiar sight and was one of the symbols of the club’s extraordinary run to the title in 2016, a year after narrowly escaping relegation.
The chairman’s son, Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddanaprabha, also the club’s vice chairman, is now making his way to the UK from Thailand.
His eldest daughter, Voramas, 36, works for King Power and had studied at a London university. Another of the chairman’s children, Leicester’s vice-chairman Aiyawatt ‘Top’ Srivaddanaprabha, was not involved in the accident, it was claimed today.
Born in Bangkok on April 4, 1958 to a Thai Chinese family, Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester City in August 2010 and was named chairman in February 2011.
The Thai billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha kick-started his business journey by opening a duty free shop back in Bangkok in 1989 at the age of 31.
A descendant of Chinese immigrants, Vichai founded what became the King Power empire in 1989 with a store in Bangkok selling duty free goods and souvenirs.
Devastated fans have described how much the chairman means to them.
Unlike many foreign owners of English clubs seen as having little connection to local fans, the bespectacled Thai was known for his unerring common touch.
Fans were treated to a free beer to celebrate his birthday ahead of a match against Newcastle in April this year.
Season-ticket prices have been frozen for the past four seasons, while Srivaddhanaprabha also donated £2 million ($2.5 million) to help build a local children’s hospital in the aftermath of the club’s title triumph.
King Power, is now a staple of the country’s airports and the brand also have the naming rights to Leicester City’s stadium.
Hundreds of bouquets of flowers were laid for the people involved in the crash. Fans returned to the stadium hours after the helicopter came crashing to the ground. Some said they had driven miles to come back and show their support
While the fire appears to be under control from photographs at the scene, the helicopter appears to have been completely destroyed by the powerful blaze
Firefighters have managed to fight their way through the blaze and extinguish the fire. The helicopter came down shortly after Leicester City’s 1-1 draw with West Ham
Cars near to the scene of the crash also appear to have been incinerated by the blaze. It is unclear if there were any injuries on the ground
Police officers secure the area outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 27, 2018 after a helicopter crashed in a car park outside the stadium
Emergency services are at the scene following the incident and an area surrounding the ground has been closed off
It is unclear who was on board the helicopter at the time of the crash. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is believed to be the only family member who attended the 1-1 draw on Saturday night
An ambulance and ambulance car was filmed driving slowly away from the King Power stadium shortly before 10.30pm.
Tim Acott, Leicester season ticket holder of 40 years, said: ‘It just came out of the stadium already spinning then down to the ground.
‘Just in a spiral. It hit the ground with a big bang then burst into flames. It’s over on the other side of the car park, I don’t think there were people there. I’m shaking like anything.’
Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who was covering the game, told BBC Radio 5 Live he saw the helicopter rise out of the stadium before it crashed.
‘Literally the engine stopped and I turned around, and it made a bit of a whirring noise. It turned silent, blades started spinning and then there was a big bang,’ he said.
He said he saw ‘a huge fireball’ when he ran to the scene.
A host of former and current players, as well as West Ham chairman Lady Karren Brady, tweeted in the aftermath of the crash
A Leicester City fan named John, who was at the game today, told Sky Sports News: ‘We was in the bar facing the King Power – my nephew was in a real state of shock. He said he saw this helicopter out of control then drop within a second and burst into flames.
‘He was so upset – we’re all thinking about the owners here and what they’ve done for the football club. It’s awful, you can’t believe it.’
The area around the ground has been closed off, while the stadium was evacuated. West Ham’s team bus had already left, though some Leicester players were still inside the stadium.
Leicester City defender Harry Maguire tweeted a video of the aftermath of the crash with praying hands emojis. Midfielder James Maddison, Ben Chilwell, Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy also posted the same emojis following the game.
England and Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell tweeted: ‘Speechless.’
West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta, who played in the game, tweeted: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in the helicopter accident at Leicester City.’
His teammate Declan Rice tweeted: ‘Horrendous scenes at the king power tonight, my prayers & thoughts go out to everyone involved at Leicester’
Former Foxes midfielder turned pundit Robbie Savage said: ‘What an absolutely terrible terrible day , my thoughts and prayers are with everyone at my old club Leicester city.’
Former Leicester City striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: ‘Hearing that the Leicester City owners’ helicopter has crashed in the club’s car park.’
He later added: ‘That was the most difficult @BBCMOTD I’ve ever hosted. Thoughts are with everyone at Leicester City. A terrible tragedy. Heartbreaking.’
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour MP for Leicester South, tweeted: ‘Awful horrific scenes at @LCFC with the helicopter crash. I’ve been in touch with our emergency services and thanked them for responding so quickly. Our hopes and prayers for all those caught up in this desperately awful incident.’
Leicestershire police said in a statement: ‘We are dealing with an incident in the vicinity of the King Power Stadium. Emergency services are aware and dealing.’
Leicester’s Hospitals added: ‘We are aware of the incident in the vicinity of the King Power Stadium and are supporting emergency services.’
The helicopter of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha lands on the pitch at the end of the game before making its final journey
Andrew Brodie, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted: ‘IMPORTANT: Energency Services are dealing with a significant incident @lcfc King Power stadium. It’s essential you stay away and allow 999s free movement. More info will follow.’
A Leicester City spokesman said: ‘We are assisting Leicestershire Police and the Emergency Services in dealing with a major incident at King Power Stadium. The Club will issue a more detailed statement once further information has been established.’
East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: ‘We received a call at 8.38pm this evening to reports of a helicopter crash near King Power Stadium. We sent a doctor, two paramedics in ambulance cars, a crewed ambulance and our Hazardous Area Response Team, with the first resource arriving within two minutes of the call.
‘We are currently working with our colleagues in Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service at the scene.
We advise members of the public to stay away from the area while we deal with this incident.’
The King Power stadium following the aftermath of the crash on Saturday evening. People were told to stay away from the ground after the incident
Sunday’s Women’s Championship clash between Leicester and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium has been called off following the crash.
The ladies reserve league match against Derby was also postponed.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch will now be leading an investigation into the circumstances of a helicopter crash at the King Power Stadium.
Dozens of fans arrived at the stadium in Leicester on Sunday to lay flowers for those who were injured in the crash
Leicester City’s charismatic Thai chairman was the subject of growing concerns on Sunday after a helicopter belonging to the billionaire crashed and burst into flames
A man and a girl add to flowers and Leicester City scarfs left as tributes outside Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium in Leicester
Srivaddhanaprabhabought the club for £39m in 2010 and the Thai billionaire led them to a Premier League title. Pictured: Srivaddhanaprabha with Wes Morgan
Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha walks to his helicopter which has landed on the pitch after the game against Southampton in April 2016
The Leicester City owners helicopter lands on the pitch after the match Leicester City v FC Porto in September 2016. The two-year old Augusta Westland AW-169 costs £2million when new
Former Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez accepts one of the blue protonic blue BMW I8s that was a gift from the team that won the Premier League title in the 2015-15 season
Popular Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha started with a duty free shop in 1989 and will always be the owner that guided club to title
By Nathan Salt for MailOnline
A helicopter belonging to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was engulfed in flames after taking off from the King Power Stadium following his side’s 1-1 draw with West Ham.
Srivaddhanaprabha usually departs the King Power inside his private helicopter after home games alongside other members of the club’s hierarchy.
Here, Sportsmail profiles Srivaddhanaprabha’s success in and out of football, including how he helped Leicester win the Premier League title in 2016.
He is fifth on the Thailand richlist of billionaires and is said to be worth close to £4billion
Srivaddhanaprabha was born in Bangkok on April 4, 1958 to a Thai Chinese family.
The Thai billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha kick-started his business journey by opening a duty free shop back in Bangkok in 1989 at the age of 31.
His retail company, King Power, is now a staple of the country’s airports and the brand also have the naming rights to Leicester City’s stadium.
Having been the club’s primary shirt sponsor for the three previous seasons, he wanted to step up his involvement and opted to go all in and become owner.
Buying the club for a reported £39million in 2010 proved a shrewd investment as he oversaw a meteoric rise which saw the Foxes historically win the Premier League title in 2015-16.
When he took over, the club had just earned promotion from League One, the third tier in the English football pyramid, and with Nigel Pearson trusted to remain in charge, the Foxes were quickly back in the Premier League.
According to Forbes, the Midlands club is now valued at £371m after becoming a staple of the top half in the league under Srivaddhanaprabha’s reign.
Ranked as fifth on Forbes’ Thailand rich list, Srivaddhanaprabha has built his empire up to a staggering $4.9billion (£3.8bn).
Sportsmail profiles the career of Leicester City’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
After enjoying rich success with Leicester – which saw them defy all the odds in reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League, Srivaddhanaprabha bought Belgian club OH Leuven in May 2017.
The club reside in the Brlgian second division but could act as a real beneficiary for young players at Leicester in the future.
Srivaddhanaprabha is a keen football supporter and has continued to put money into the Foxes with his son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha involved as club vice-chairman.
He is married to Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, and has four children Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong, and Aiyawatt.
He is popular among players and is regularly in attendance for matches at the King Power