Leicester City owner Vichai's helicopter crashes outside stadium

Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester City football club in 2010.

    A helicopter belonging to Leicester City football club owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, has crashed in a ball of flames in the club's car park, according to British media.

    It was not known whether Vichai, a father of four and the founder of duty-free giant King Power International, was in the helicopter which had taken off just moments before from the pitch about 40 minutes after the end of a Premier League match on Saturday.

    The helicopter just cleared the top of the stadium before spiralling out of control and plummeting to the ground and exploding, witnesses told Reuters news agency.

    Leicester police said that they were dealing with an incident near the club's King Power Stadium and that emergency services were also at the scene.

    A spokesman for the club 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."

    Freelance photographer Ryan Brown, who covered the home team's 1-1 draw with West Ham United, saw the helicopter clear the stadium before it crashed, the BBC reported.

    "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."

    A number of Leicester's players, including defender Harry Maguire, tweeted messages with "praying emojis" after the incident.

    Vichai bought the struggling side in 2010 before they stunned the world of football by beating the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to win the Premier League title in 2016.

    The self-made businessman founded Thai duty-free giant King Power in 1989.

    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 ouster in a coup that year.

    The family's empire also includes Belgian football club, Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies