Competitors and spectators at the World Cup endurance race in Dubai witness tragedy as a TV helicopter explodes close to the vetgate

Tragedy struck in the opening stages of the World Cup endurance race in the UAE when a helicopter carrying British cameraman Matthew Allwork crashed just feet from the vetgate, killing both men on board.

The helicopter pilot, First Lt Hashr Musfer Al Amimi, averted further loss of life when he managed to steer the stricken machine away from a crowded area.

Both men died instantly when the helicopter crashed outside the perimeter of the vetgate, in a pen set aside for horses eliminated from the event.

Mr Allwork, from Elstead in Surrey, was based in Dubai and had been working for the Dubai Sport Channel.

The accident happened shortly after 7am in windy conditions as the first horses were returning to the vetgate at the end of the first 30km loop.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was competing and being filmed by the crew for Dubai TV at the time of the accident, was among those to witness the crash.

The Sheikh and his sons joined fire crews and paramedics in the rush to the scene, only to see the wreckage explode in front of them seconds later.