Two dead as police helicopter circling Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville crashes in woods and explodes into flames

Two people are dead after a police helicopter crashed and exploded into flames while it was assigned to monitor violent counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They were the only people on board the aircraft when it went down in a wooded area south-west of the city.

A photo posted online purported to show the wreckage in a ball of flames, while other images showed smoke billowing into the air and part of the helicopter stuck in a tree.

A witness said the helicopter spiralled to the ground after it stalled and went out of control.

People who live near the scene told the Daily Progress that the helicopter hovered low over houses before crashing.

Witnesses told local media that the Virginia State Police helicopter, a Bell 407, crashed near a golf course.

A photo purportedly of the crash site (Image: twitter)

Witness Emma Eisner, who captured video of smoke rising into the air, wrote on Twitter: “To everyone asking about the helicopter crash: it basically started stalling, spiraled down to the ground & lost control .”

A police helicopter had been seen earlier in the day circling over the counter-demonstrations in Charlottesville.

The helicopter went down at about 5pm local time seven miles from Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, and away from the site of the protests where one person was killed and 34 others injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Virginia State Police said: “Shortly before 5pm today, a helicopter crashed into a wooded area near a residence on Old Farm Road.

“There are two confirmed fatalities.

“No one on the ground was injured. The cause of the crash remains under investigation at this time.”

Violent scenes erupted earlier when white supremacists protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee clashed with anti-Nazi activists.

Fights broke out and amid the tension a car ploughed into a crowd, killing one person and injuring 19.

The horrific incident was captured on camera, showing people being thrown into the air and receiving help on the floor in the aftermath.