The helicopter belonging to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai billionaire owner of Leicester City Football Club, crashed outside the King Power Stadium in a ball of flames after a Premier League match on Saturday. According to unconfirmed reports the Thai tycoon was on board the helicopter.
BREAKING: Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was on board the the helicopter which crashed outside the stadium.
The owner’s daughter, two pilots and an unidentified fifth person were also on board.
Sources close to the club later told Reuters that his daughter was also in the helicopter during the crash, along with two pilots and a fifth person. There were no confirmed details on whether anyone on board survived and neither Srivaddhanaprabha’s representatives, nor the police, have yet released an official statement.
Multiple videos from the scene show a massive fire at the stadium’s car park and emergency services arriving.
The helicopter crashed just yards from the pitch in the club’s car park. Team manager Claude Puel was not on the helicopter, the source said. According to witnesses, the helicopter just cleared the top of the stadium before it started to spin. It then plummeted to the ground and burst into flames.
A Sky Sports News reporter said that witnesses saw the helicopter taking off from the pitch inside the stadium “as it does after every game.” The pilot then apparently lost control of the helicopter.
John Butcher, who was near the stadium at the time of the crash, told the BBC his nephew saw the helicopter spiral out of control apparently due to a faulty rear propeller. “Within a second it dropped like a stone to the floor … Luckily it did spiral for a little while and everybody sort of ran, sort of scattered. As far as we are aware nobody around the car park was caught up in this problem.”
A helicopter belonging to the chairman of Leicester City has crashed outside the club’s stadium in the car park. Leicestershire Police says emergency services are “aware and dealing” with an incident near Leicester City’s King Power Stadium. pic.twitter.com/joZBvXIWG4
Ben Jacobs, a journalist with BeIN, ESPN and TalkSport, confirmed the Reuters report that Srivaddhanaprabha was on board the helicopter when it crashed into the car park. The King Power Stadium is expected to release a statement later.
Spoken to King Power, who will release a statement tomorrow. #LCFC owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was on-board the eight-seater helicopter to London. Failure, upon take off, resulted in a fire prior to a crash in the car park. No news on casualties. Prayers with #LCFC family
Freelance photographer Ryan Brown was covering the game and saw the helicopter clear the stadium before it crashed.
“Literally the engine stopped and I turned around, and it made a bit of a whirring noise,” Brown told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It turned silent, blades started spinning and then there was a big bang.”
Vichai, a father of four and the founder of duty-free giant King Power International, is a huge favorite with the fans after he bought the unfancied Leicester City club from central England in 2010 and then went on to stun the soccer world by winning the Premier League title in 2016.
Vichai helped steer Leicester back into the top flight in 2014 after pumping millions into the club before it stunned the sport by beating the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to become champions of England.
The self-made businessman Vichai founded Thai duty-free giant King Power in 1989. According to Forbes magazine he is the fifth richest person in Thailand with an estimated net worth of $4.9 billion. The duty-free business got a big boost in 2006 when it was granted an airport monopoly under the government of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and it continued to prosper even after Thaksin’s ousting in a coup that year.
The family’s empire also includes Belgian football club, Oud-Heverlee Leuven.
Leading Leicester players, including Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire, sent messages of support on Twitter while rival clubs including Manchester City also voiced their concern.
Leicester had played a league match at home against West Ham United earlier on Saturday, drawing 1-1.