18:59 GMT24 September 2020
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    The billionaire owner of English Premier League side Leicester City was killed on Saturday night when his helicopter crashed in the stadium car park. Sputnik looks at other helicopter accidents which have hit the headlines and what turned out to be the causes.

    Five people — including Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha — were killed on Saturday, October 27, when the chopper crashed in a ball of flames an hour after the end of Leicester City's 1-1 draw with West Ham at the King Power Stadium.

    Leicestershire Police said that along with the owner of the club — which famously won the Premier League title in 2016 in one of the biggest sporting shocks in history — the crash also claimed the lives of two of his employees  - Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare — pilot Eric Swaffer and his Polish girlfriend Izabela Lechowicz, who was also a pilot.

    It is unclear what caused the accident although some one eyewitness, Ryan Brown, said the engine appeared to cut out and the Agusta Westland AW169 "was just spinning, out of control" before it crashed.

    Helicopters are generally safe but there have been a number of high-profile accidents over the years.

    Vauxhall Crash — 2013

    In January 2013 an another Agusta helicopter — this time an AW109 — crashed into the street in Vauxhall, south London, after clipping a crane at St. George Wharf just before 8am.

    Miraculously the only people to be killed were the pilot Peter Barnes, 50, and  Matthew Wood, 39, who was killed by the falling helicopter as he walked in the street below during the morning rush hour.

    Twelve people were injured by debris but the death toll would have been so much higher if the Italian-made chopper had hit a building or a double decker bus.

    An inquest jury in 2015 blamed Mr. Barnes for the crash and said he should not have taken off when freezing fog had made visibility so poor over London. But the jury said they felt like he was under "commercial pressure".

    Mr. Barnes had been flying from Redhill in Surrey to Elstree in Hertfordshire but was diverted to Battersea heliport.

    The Air Accident Investigation Branch gave evidence that Mr. Barnes must have experienced a "loss of situational awareness" which caused him to clip the crane.

    The company which owned the helicopter, RotorMotion, went out of business.

    Matthew Harding — 1996

    Pilot error was also to blame for the death of another football club tycoon in October 1996.

    Matthew Harding had invested £26.5 million (US$34 million) in Chelsea Football Club since 1993 and was the vice-chairman under long-time owner Ken Bates, who clashed with him in the boardroom.

    The Twin Squirrel helicopter came down in a farmer's field in Cheshire and burst into flames after picking up Mr. Harding, 42, and his friends from a cup tie at Bolton Wanderers on a midweek evening.

    Chief air accident investigator Michael Charles told the inquest in 1998 the pilot Michael Goss, who had flown helicopters in the British Army, was trying to do "more than was achievable" in trying to fly single-handed in poor visibility in a helicopter without autopilot and while trying to talk to air traffic control.

    The inquest a cockpit recording of the moments before the crash.

    "Yeah, I'm looking for vectors for an ILS (instrument landing)… I think I'm in a descent at the moment… hold on," said Mr. Goss seconds before the crash.

    The crash also killed businessmen Tony Burridge, 39, and Raymond Deane, 43, and magazine journalist John Bauldie, 47.

    New regulations were later introduced which would require helicopters who were flying alone to have their craft fitted with autopilots or stabilization devices for night flights.

    After the crash the rebuilt north side of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium was renamed the Matthew Harding Stand when it was opened in August 1996.

    Bates would sell the club to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003.

    Israeli Military Crashes — 1977 and 1997

    The Israeli Defense Force's worst losses in a single day have both involved helicopters.

    In May 1977 an Israeli-made Yas'ur CH-53 Sea Stallion carrying 44 paratroopers and 10 airmen crashed shortly after take off in the northern Jordan Valley, killing everyone on board.

    A memorial was later erected on the "Hill of the 54" near Yitav.

    Committees of inquiry blamed both mechanical failures and faulty instructions issued to the pilot, who had overloaded the craft.

    The Sea Stallion was not supposed to carry more than 37 passengers.  

    In 1997 two Yas'ur helicopters crashed in mid-air over northern Israel, killing all 73 service personnel on board.

    "On February 4, 1997, the skies and the ground shook. Everyone old enough at the time will never forget that earth-shattering night, that terrible flight — a flight without survivors," President Reuven Rivlin said at a ceremony to remember the dead last year.

    Alexander Lebed — 2002

    In April 2002 a Mil Mi-8 helicopter which was being flown by Russian politician and former general Alexander Lebed crashed after flying into overhead power cables.

    General Lebed, a veteran of the Afghan conflict, came third in the 1996 Russian presidential election, with 14.5 percent of the vote nationwide.

    He later served as Secretary of the Security Council under President Boris Yeltsin and was governor of the huge Krasnoyarsk region at the time of his death.

    A parliamentary deputy, Alexei Arbatov, said it was possible sabotage was responsible for the crash and he claimed General Lebed had made powerful enemies in Krasnoyarsk.

    But President Vladimir Putin ordered a full investigate of the crash, which blamed thick fog.

    Mull of Kintyre — 1994

    On the night of June 2, 1994 an RAF Chinook helicopter crashed into a hillside on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, killed all 29 people on board.

    It was the worst single loss of life by the RAF since the Second World War.

    On board were 25 of Britain's most senior counter-terrorism experts, who included many British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary officers who were involved in the "dirty war" against the IRA in Northern Ireland.

    In the aftermath of the crash two RAF air marshals accused the dead pilots, Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, of gross negligence.

    But a fresh review found they were blameless and in 2011 then Defense Secretary Liam Fox apologized to the dead men's families.

    The review found technical problems were probably to blame for the crash but there was a conspiracy theory suggesting the IRA — who declared a ceasefire two months later — were responsible or even dark figures within the establishment who feared the counter-terrorist experts would try to block a peace deal with Sinn Fein.

    John Garang — 2005

    For 22 years John Garang had led the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army, which fought for the mainly Christian and animist south of the giant country to be independent of the Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum.

    A peace agreement was signed on July 9, 2005 and three weeks later Dr. Garang — who had been made Vice President of Sudan — was killed in a helicopter crash as he returned from a meeting with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.

    The Russian-made Mil Mi-172 reportedly crashed due to bad weather in southern Sudan although conspiracy theories abounded.

    Salva Kiir took over as leader of the SPLA and became the first President of South Sudan when it became independent in 2011 but two years later civil war broke out between Kiir's Dinka-led government and the opposition SPLM, which is led by Riek Machar, from the rival Nuer tribe.


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    sabotage, accident, death, helicopter, crash, British Army, Russian Army, Leicester, Israel, Russia, South Sudan, London
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