Saturday, 30 November 2013

Glasgow helicopter crash: One dead at Clutha pub

One person has been confirmed dead after a police helicopter crashed into a busy pub in Glasgow.

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Scene of crash
Police Scotland said they expected the final number of fatalities would be higher and a rescue operation is continuing at the scene.

The crash happened at The Clutha in Stockwell Street at 22:25 on Friday. 

There were three people on board the helicopter - two officers and a civilian pilot. Thirty-two people have been taken to local hospitals.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told a press conference it was a "black day for Scotland."

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House confirmed that one person had died and further fatalities were expected after the helicopter crashed on to the roof of the pub.

He said there was "deep sorrow" in Police Scotland and thoughts were with all those involved.

He said they "can't say definitively" whether there are people still trapped within the pub, and added "we are still in a search and recovery phase".

He went on: "It's been emotional but it's the job of everyone here to deal with it and we will continue to deal with it."

Mr Salmond said: "This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland but it is also St Andrew's Day and we can take pride in how we respond to adversity. 

"The response from our emergency services and citizens has been exemplary."

Earlier senior fire officer said they had made contact with some people trapped inside the pub but the building was unsafe and they were taking a "methodical" approach to the rescue.

The emergency services could be seen on the pub's roof trying to rescue people from inside.

It has been reported that about 120 people were in the pub at the time of the crash. Many were rescued or escaped but others have been trapped by a collapse on the left-hand side of the building.

Emergency services have erected barriers around the scene and specialist rescue teams are in the pub with sniffer dogs.
  • The Police Scotland Casualty Bureau number is 0800 092 0410
  • Callers should only contact the Casualty Bureau number if they have concerns for relatives who may
  • have been in the Clutha Vaults pub or surrounding area at the time of the incident
  • The injured have been taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Western Infirmary and the Victoria Infirmary
  • The fire service said there were people trapped in the building but they could not say how many
Some of the injured were taken to a nearby Holiday Inn Express, while more serious casualties were being treated in hospital.

As he left the accident and emergency department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, a staff member who did not want to be interviewed was asked how serious the injuries were. He replied: "Very".

Glasgow's Health Board said it had put in place its "well-rehearsed major emergency arrangements" and that local hospitals had been on "immediate standby".

A large area of the city centre has been cordoned off.

Images of the crash showed the wreckage of a dark blue helicopter with a yellow "Police" insignia lying on the pub's roof.

Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: "At 22:25 on Friday evening, the Police Scotland helicopter - a Eurocopter EC135 T2 - came down on the roof of the Clutha Vaults pub in Stockwell Street, Glasgow.

"There were three people on board - two police officers and a civilian pilot. There were a number of customers inside the bar at the time."

She said the rescue operation was ongoing and it was too early to provide any details around why the helicopter came down. 

Helicopter operator Bond Air Services said it was working with the police and emergency services.

Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire, was in the area at the time of the crash and said he ran into the pub to help before emergency services arrived.

He told the Info breakers there was "pandemonium" as people tried to get out of the pub.
Emergency services outside  
Emergency services said there have been "numerous" casualties
 
"It was almost like slow motion," he said, adding: "People just formed a bit of human chain, side by side with each other, to help pull injured people out."

The shadow cabinet minister, who had blood on his shirt which he said was not his, described what he saw as a "horrific scene". 

The band who were playing in the pub at the time of the crash, Esperanza, have released a statement on their Facebook page.

Bassist Jess wrote: "Waking up and realising that it is all definitely horribly real. Despite the situation everyone was so helpful and caring of each other. 

"The police, ambulances, firefighters all did a stellar job and continue to do so today in extremely difficult conditions."

Eyewitness Fraser Gibson, 34, was inside the pub with his brother to see his former band, Esperanza.

"Midway through their set it sounded like a giant explosion," he told BBC Scotland. 

"Part of the room was covered in dust. We didn't know what had happened. We froze for a second; there was panic and then people trying to get out the door."

Mr Gibson added: "I would say there was maybe 120 people inside the pub. A lot of people managed to get out straight away, but it was hard to tell how many were actually trapped in the other half of the bar.

He said there had been no indication a helicopter had caused the devastation, adding: "The roof had just totally collapsed. 

"There were shards of wood sticking out the top but nothing that said there had been a helicopter crash."

Eddie Waltham, a former firefighter who had a friend inside the pub, told the BBC: "A roof joist came down and hit him and pushed him towards the window which is at the left side of the left door."

He added later: "My own reaction was to run straight up to the pub.

"It was amazing to watch just how people were trying so hard to get into this building." 

John McGarrigle who said he feared his father had been in the pub at the time said: "I've checked every hospital and there's no sign of him. I'm very anxious. 

"I'm just going to stand here till I see casualties come out of the building."
Map of the area 

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