At least eight people were feared dead after a police helicopter crashed into a popular pub in Glasgow last night, turning weekend revelry into a nightmare and transforming Scotland’s national day today into a day of grief.
Chief constable Stephen House said all those aboard the helicopter - two officers and a civilian pilot - died when the aircraft crashed into the roof of The Clutha pub and five other people were killed on the ground.
He said on Saturday that 14 injured people remain in Glasgow hospitals following the crash.
The helicopter descended at 10.25pm on the roof of The Clutha pub on the banks of the River Clyde, where over 100 revellers were enjoying drinks and live music.
Official sources said 32 people had been taken to the hospital. There were three people on board the helicopter - two officers and a civilian pilot. The helicopter, Eurocopter EC 135 T2, first entered service in 1996 and more than 1,000 of them were said to be in operation.
Today is St Andrew’s Day, named after Scotland’s patron saint. The day is Scotland’s national day.
A large area of the Glasgow city centre has been cordoned off as efforts continued throughout the night to rescue those trapped under the debris. Television images of the crash showed the wreckage of a dark blue helicopter with a yellow ‘Police’ sign on the pub 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."
Police officers and firefighters inspect the damage of a helicopter crash, at a pub in Glasgow. AP Photo
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said that given the scale of the crash, “we must prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities”.
Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire who ran into the pub to help, described the scene as “horrific”. He told the BBC: "I was just a few yards away and I arrived on the scene outside the pub a few seconds after the impact. No-one knew what it was but you saw the pandemonium of the people trying to get out of the pub”.
Read: Police helicopter crashes into Glasgow pub
He added: "As you stood there you could see the helicopter embedded in the roof and sticking out the top of the roof and you knew it was something really serious. People just formed a bit of human chain, side by side with each other, to help pull injured people out”.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow - and the emergency services working tonight."
(With inputs from AP)