POLICE IN SCOTLAND have confirmed eight people died as a result of last night’s helicopter crash in Glasgow.
Dozens more were injured when a police helicopter came down on the roof of the Clutha pub, on the banks of the river Clyde.
In an update this afternoon, Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House said he could confirm there had been eight fatalities.
Three of the victims were the occupants of the helicopter. The remainder were in the pub. 14 people remain in a serious condition in hospitals across the city.
A full investigation into the incident has begun, under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The Air Accident Investigation Branch is also carrying out an investigation.
“This is a complex and ongoing rescue operation,” House said.
“It will not be a quick operation. It is a complicated and dangerous scene.”
House paid tribute the members of the emergency services who had responded to the scene, and congratulated the people of Glasgow who “heedless of their own safety, took action last night”.
“We are dealing with a very sensitive operation and investigation. It will go on for many days yet.”
The police helicopter, which was carrying two officers and a civilian pilot, crashed into the pub at around 10.25pm. There were over 100 people in the premises at the time, and a gig was in progress.
House said it wouldn’t be possible to state the full extent of the tragedy until the helicopter had been removed from the building, where it crashed through the roof onto the pub floor.
He said the operation was still in a “rescue and recovery” phase.
Police Scotland is coordinating the rescue operation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Ambulance Service.
‘A black day’
First Minister Alex Salmond has described today as “a black day for Glasgow”.
He praised the response from the emergency services, and said ordinary citizens had been “exemplary”.
Jim Murphy, a Labour MP in Glasgow, helped at the scene during the rescue last night. He said this morning:
Today my thoughts are with those who are affected by the Glasgow helicopter crash as well as the emergency staff who responded so quickly, bravely and brilliantly and who are still at the scene. Last night people did what is the human instinct and helped out until the emergency crews arrived. I did little in comparison to others who did much more at the scene.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, said this morning:
I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow last night. My thoughts are also with the emergency and ambulance services who are still working to free those who remain trapped in the building, in difficult conditions.
He said that at this stage, there are no reports of any Irish citizens being involved, but Ireland’s Consulate General in Edinburgh is working with the local authorities and offering any assistance they can provide.
The band who were playing at the time of the incident, Esperanza, escaped the crash safely. They commented this morning on Facebook:
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.
Afterwards, pubgoers and passers-by did what they could to get the wounded to safety, and emergency services worked through the night in a bid to recover people from the wreckage.
The site has been cordoned off, with emergency service workers erecting a tarpaulin over the building.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “tragic event” while the Queen said her “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims.
[All photographs at the scene by Andrew Milligan & Scott Heppell/PA Wire]
- Additional reporting: Daragh Brophy/AP