The pilot of a helicopter which crashed outside Leicester’s stadium last night may have prevented a larger tragedy by bringing it down away from buildings and homes.
The helicopter, belonging to Leicester City’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – who is feared to have been on board – came down just outside the ground after the club’s match against West Ham last night.
An aerial view shows where the helicopter crashed and then burst into flames, in a relatively derelict part of the site.
The crash could have caused mass casualties if it had come down on the road, car park, nearby houses or wrecked part of the King Power Stadium.
The helicopter, belonging to Leicester City’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – who is feared to have been on board – came down just outside the ground after the club’s match against West Ham last night
Most of the 31,000 fans who watched the Premier League side draw with West Ham had already left the stadium when the helicopter took off from the centre of the pitch.
But video footage in the aftermath of the crash showed there was still a large crowd of people in the area when the helicopter fell to the ground.
They included spectators and journalists as well as police officers who were controlling the crowd during the match.
Also near the stadium are a Holiday Inn hotel and an adjacent restaurant, two car dealerships and a children’s play centre.
Witnesses have said the ‘engine stopped’ in the air, before the helicopter plummeted to the ground at around 8.45pm.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the Leicester owner or any of his children were on board.
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 club’s owner is known for arriving and leaving the stadium in his helicopter at home games.
An aerial view shows where the helicopter crashed and then burst into flames, in a relatively derelict part of the site
Bouquets, flags and football shirts have been left outside the ground by members of the public on Sunday morning.
Self-made Thai billionaire Mr Srivaddhanaprabha has become a hero to Leicester fans since their improbable Premier League title win in 2016.
The 60-year-old is also praised for his charity work, donating £2 million towards a new children’s hospital.
Leicestershire Police has said the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will now be leading the investigation into the circumstances of the helicopter crash.
The AAIB confirmed on Sunday morning its investigators had been deployed at the site.
A spokesman added: ‘A team from the AAIB has been deployed to the site and is investigating. Anyone with information that might be helpful to the investigation is asked to contact the police.’
It has not been confirmed how many people were in the helicopter or how serious their injuries are, and it is not clear whether anyone on the ground was affected.
But there are fears that the crash and resulting fireball could have left the pilot and passengers little chance of survival.
One witness told Sky News: ‘I hope they’re okay. Doesn’t seem like they have had much of a chance. Just burst into flames.’
The helicopter belonging to Leicester owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha crashed outside the King Power Stadium following Leicester’s 1-1 draw with West Ham yesterday