Death toll rises to 8 in Glasgow helicopter crash
GLASGOW // Eight people were killed in the helicopter crash on a crowded Glasgow pub, police said on Saturday, with 14 others seriously injured in hospital.
Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, said two officers and the civilian pilot aboard the police helicopter and five people inside The Clutha bar were all killed in the accident late on Friday.
“We can now confirm that the number of fatalities involved in this incident has risen to eight,” the police chief told reporters at the scene.
“Three of these eight fatalities were found within the helicopter and were our colleagues in the helicopter crew. The remaining five people were found within the building.
“Fourteen people remain seriously injured in Glasgow hospitals and are being cared for by health colleagues there.”
He said the rescue mission was complex and ongoing and would not be quick.
“We are dealing with a very sensitive investigation and operation here. It will go on for many days yet,” he said.
“I’d also like again to commend the courage of the people in Glasgow who, heedless for their own safety, took action last night at the time of the incident and the many acts of kindness we’ve seen since.”
Chief constable House had earlier confirmed that overnight 32 people were taken by ambulance to hospitals in following the crash.
The Clutha pub, near the banks of the River Clyde, was packed and a ska band was in full swing when the chopper slammed through the roof at around 10.30pm, sending dozens of patrons fleeing through a cloud of dust. Witnesses spoke of people streaming out of the building covered in blood, with gashes and other injuries.
Area resident Paul Dundas, 26, told how he heard a loud bang and looked out of his window to see a plume of dust rising above the pub.
“At first I thought it was a firework,” he said, describing the “horrible scene” he discovered upon going down to the street level.
“People were covered in blood and dust. Other people were dragging them away from the bar and trying to get them out,” he said. “Everyone was in shock, but people were helping and asking strangers if they were OK. I saw a couple help each other clean up their faces.
Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub at the time, said she heard a “whoosh” noise and then saw smoke.
“The band were laughing, and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down,” she told the BBC. “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 crash happened on the eve of St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s official national holiday.
“This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland but it’s also St Andrew’s Day, and it’s a day we can take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity and tragedy,” Scottish leader Alex Salmond said, later ordering that flags outside government buildings be flown at half-staff.
Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, offered to support the Scottish government “in any way”, offering his “deepest sympathies” to those affected by the tragedy and praising emergency services plus “the bravery of ordinary Glaswegians” who rushed to help.
* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press
Updated: November 30, 2013 04:00 AM