Hunt for survivors in Glasgow after helicopter crashes through pub roof

Rescuers struggle to reach survivors trapped in Glasgow bar after helicopter crashes through roof, leaving at least eight dead

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 9:47am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 December, 2013, 5:47am

Emergency services were battling yesterday to rescue people trapped in the wreckage of a Glasgow pub after a police helicopter crashed onto it.

Eight people were confirmed dead and 14 others seriously injured were in hospital. The dead included the pilot of the helicopter and the two police officers on board, Scottish police chief constable, Stephen House said.

"We are dealing with a very sensitive investigation and operation here. It will go on for many days yet," he said.

The helicopter smashed through the roof of The Clutha pub, where more than 100 had crowded in to see a band play on Friday night ahead of St Andrew's Day, which celebrates Scotland's patron saint.

Witnesses said the helicopter dropped like a stone, while people inside the pub heard a "whoosh" before the roof caved in and the air filled with dust and screams.

The site by the banks of the River Clyde was cordoned off, with emergency service workers visible on the roof.

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond - who just days earlier had celebrated the release of a legal blueprint for Scottish independence - sent his condolences to the bereaved.

Police officer Rose Fitzgerald said it was too early to say why the Eurocopter EC135 T2 helicopter crashed.

"A full investigation is now under way. But at this early stage it is too early to provide details on why the helicopter came down," she said.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has sent a team to the scene. Witnesses told of confusion, terror and then bravery after the accident.

Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub at the time of the crash, told the BBC that they were listening to a ska band at the time. "We were all just having a nice time and then there was like a 'whoosh' noise. There was no bang, there was no explosion," she said. "And then there was some smoke, what seemed like smoke. The band were laughing and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down.

"They carried on playing and then it started to come down more and someone started screaming and then the whole pub just filled with dust. You couldn't see anything You couldn't breathe."

The band, Esperanza, later said on their Facebook page that they were all well.

Gordon Smart, who edits the Scottish edition of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Sun, said he saw the helicopter coming down. "It was just such a surreal moment. It looked like it was dropping from a great height at a great speed," he told Sky News television.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Bloomberg