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Leicester City helicopter crash: Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha feared dead in stadium tragedy

Leicester City owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha is feared dead after his helicopter crashed on Saturday night outside of the King Power Stadium.

The crash happened shortly after Leicester's draw with West Ham, at 8:30pm UK time. Emergency services were quickly on the scene after witnesses saw the craft go into a spin after taking off.

The BBC is reporting that the owner, his daughter, two pilots and one other unknown person were in the helicopter at the time of the crash. No confirmation has been given of if anyone survived the incident. 

“We are assisting Leicestershire Police and the emergency services in dealing with a major incident at King Power Stadium," a Leicester City spokesman said in a club statement. "The club will issue a more detailed statement once further information has been established." 

Srivaddhanaprabha, who bought Leicester City in 2010, is hugely popular at the club having funded the Foxes through their fairy tale Premier League success in 2015-16, when they were 5,000-1 to win the title at the start of the season.

Leicester City helicopter

Supporters were laying tributes to the Thai businessman on Sunday morning in a solemn atmosphere outside the King Power Stadium as they awaited further information on exactly what happened.

Leicestershire police tweeted: "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."

Meanwhile, details have emerged from eye witnesses on what caused the helicopter crash, with engine failure sounding like a posible cause for the incident.

"The engine stopped and I turned round and it made a bit of a whirring noise, like a grinding noise," freelance photographer Ryan Brown told BBC Radio Leicester.

"The helicopter just went silent, I turned round and it was just spinning, out of control. And then there was a big bang and then [a] big fireball."

There has been no confirmation of casualties to this point, although the club are expected to release a statement on Sunday.

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Srivaddhanaprabha has four children but it remains officially unconfirmed if any family members were on board the aircraft. It is known that Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester’s vice-chairman and Srivaddhanaprabha’s son, was not at the game and was not on board.

Sky Sports also reports that Leicester's director of football John Rudkin was not aboard the helicopter and, contrary to some reports on Saturday night, manager Claude Puel was not either.

"It's a tragedy for the club," Puel told Radio France on Sunday. "I think very strongly about the victims and their families. I wanted to reassure everyone who cares about me, I'm terribly sad but I'm fine."

Leicester icon Gary Linenker, who hosts BBC's Saturday night Premier League highlights programme, expressed his devastation at the reports.

“That was the most difficult Match of the Day I’ve ever hosted," the ex-England striker tweeted. "Thoughts are with everyone at Leicester City. A terrible tragedy. Heartbreaking.”

Former Leicester and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton tweeted: "Witnessed the crash at Leicester last night with my wife. Absolutely devastated and in shock. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved and Leicester City."

On Sunday, the club confirmed the cancellation of their women's team fixture against Manchester United and their reserve team's game in the aftermath of the incident.