Eight dead as helicopter crashes into Glasgow pub
Witnesses say police helicopter dropped like stone onto roof of packed pub, trapping many inside
Members of the emergency services use a cherry picker to access the crash site of a police helicopter on the roof of a pub in the centre of Glasgow, Scotland. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
The helicopter crash at the Clutha Bar in Glasgow.
Rescue workers examine the wreckage of a police helicopter, which crashed onto the roof of the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow last night. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters
Ambulance crews at the scene of a helicopter crash last night. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Rescue workers cover the wreckage of a police helicopter which crashed onto the roof of the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow last night. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters
An officer walks past a police cordon set up around the site of the helicopter crash. Part of the aircraft are covered by the tarpaulin behind. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Paul Watt, a regular at the Clutha pub, reacts at the police cordon set up around the site of a helicopter crash on the Clutha in the centre of Glasgow. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Rescue workers attend the scene at a pub on Stockwell Street where a police helicopter crashed on the banks of the River Clyde. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Eight people were killed and 14 others seriously injured when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of a packed Glasgow pub, trapping many inside in choking dust and debris, Scottish police said this evening.
Witnesses said the helicopter dropped from the sky like a stone onto the busy Clutha Pub in Scotland’s biggest city last night while more than 100 people were crammed inside, listening to a live music concert.
The helicopter crew - two police officers and the civilian pilot - were among the dead and the others were discovered inside the wreckage of the building, chief constable of police in Scotland Stephen House told reporters.
He said 14 others remained in hospital with serious injuries. The 12-metre helicopter - a twin-engine Eurocopter - spiralled into the pub in the centre of Glasgow, destroying part of the roof.
The mangled wreckage remained embedded in the middle of the building as the search continued through today.
“We are still in ... a rescue and recovery situation,” Mr House said. “Until the helicopter is out of the way we won’t know what ... is going on underneath.”
Immediately after the crash, revellers caked in dust and blood rushed out into the street. Passers-by including the local member of parliament formed a human chain to bring out the injured from the building.
“It was fairly busy, we were all having a nice time and then there was like a ‘whoosh’ noise,” Grace MacLean, who was in the pub at the time, told the BBC. “There was no bang, no explosion, and then there was what seemed like smoke, and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down, and then it started to come down more and someone started screaming, and the whole pub filled with dust and you couldn’t see anything, you couldn’t breathe.”
Tearful relatives and friends of those caught up in the incident gathered during the day, some laying flowers at the scene, and Queen Elizabeth and British prime minister David Cameron were among those to express their sympathy. “This is a black day for Glasgow and for Scotland,” said Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, noting that today was St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s national day.
Celebrations in Glasgow were cancelled, flags were flown at half-mast on government buildings and a special service was held at Glasgow’s Roman Catholic cathedral. Police said it was too early to speculate on what caused the Eurocopter, popular with emergency services worldwide, to come down. Witnesses said it did not appear to have caught fire.
The country’s Air Accident Investigation Branch began an inquiry and Eurocopter said its experts were on standby to help. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) said safety issues had to be examined after a number of fatal helicopter crashes in recent years.
In August, four people were killed when a Super Puma L2, also made by Eurocopter, crashed into the sea off Scotland’s Shetland Islands with oil workers on board, the fifth accident in four years in the area involving different models of the aircraft. Investigators said there was no evidence of technical failure. “Whilst there will be understandable questions on why this happened, it is our experience that speculation about causes is often wide of the mark,” Balpa said in a statement. “Nevertheless, trends in helicopter safety (are) a matter of concern after a number of recent incidents.”