Scotland is in shock after a police helicopter crashed on to the roof of a pub in Glasgow, Scotland on Friday night. It is thought that at least six are dead and 32 people injured. The accident happened at 10.25 pm local time on Friday. Firefighters and police are on the scene trying to enter into the building to rescue people from the wreckage.
The accident occurred just as more than 100 people were listening to a live band in the Clutha Vaults pub on the banks of the Clyde River in Glasgow.
While deaths are not yet confirmed, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has told the media that people should prepare for the worst.
Grace MacLean was inside the pub when the helicopter hit and she told Sky News that someone started shouting. Next minute the band apparently cut the music and then suddenly there was a huge cloud of dust inside the pub.
MacLean said that the people inside couldn’t breathe without inhaling dust. People could not see what was going on and were apparently “clawing at the walls to see where the exit is.”
She said that there was no loud noise and that no one had any idea what was happening. But MacLean did say that everyone was helping each other out. Reportedly many people were hurt, with head injuries and many were in shock.
Another witness on the scene, 53 year old Wesley McEwan said that just after the helicopter came through the roof he could see two people inside the cockpit, and that there were multiple people injured around and under the craft.
According to Scotland police sources, 32 people have so far been taken to local hospitals with “multiple types of injury.” Police further confirmed that the helicopter had a crew of two police officers and one civilian pilot when it crashed into the pub, but no details have been released yet as to their condition and that many people are still in shock.
Rescue operations inside the pub are difficult as the building is apparently now very unsafe. Officials state that they are determined to make the building stable and to carry out rescues.
Immediately after the crash there were 125 firefighters on the scene and rescue services also employed sniffer dogs to assist with finding people still inside the pub.
So far it is unclear what caused the helicopter crash. According to one eye witness, the helicopter “dropped like a stone” and apparently there was an eerie silence just before it hit the roof of the pub. The witness was surprised that there was no explosion as it hit the building.
Apparently the first rescues in the incident were by Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy, who told the media that he saw a “pile of people clammering out” of the pub. He said that he was in a pub around 200 yards away and heard someone say that a helicopter was in trouble. He drove down the street and saw smoke emanating from the door and that it was obvious that something really bad had happened.
He said you could see part of the helicopter sticking out of the roof and that they knew there were people inside the building and instinct told them to help. Together with rescue officials he formed a human chain to help the injured people out of the building.
The band who were playing at the time, Esperanza, escaped from the building unharmed and posted a message on their Facebook page sending everyone best wishes and hoping that no one was seriously injured.
On Twitter was a message from British Prime Minister David Cameron saying that his thoughts were with everyone affected.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in Scotland are at the scene on Saturday morning, trying to establish exactly what happened to cause the police helicopter to crash into the pub.
Update: Later news confirmed eight people dead in the accident.
By Anne Sewell