A police helicopter crash into a downtown pub in Scotland’s biggest city killed eight people and injured 14 seriously, police said today.
Three of the eight dead were found in the helicopter and five in the building, according to Police Scotland. The helicopter, carrying two officers and a civilian pilot, hit the roof of the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow’s Stockwell Street late yesterday, it said.
Fourteen people remain in Glasgow hospitals with serious injuries, Chief Constable Stephen House told reporters. “This is a complex and ongoing rescue operation,” he said. “It will not be a quick operation. It is a very complicated and indeed dangerous scene.”
Police said the helicopter involved was a Eurocopter EC135 T2 and was owned and operated by Bond Air Services. The company said it is working with the police and emergency services, without providing further details, according to a statement on its website.
The BBC reported that as many as 120 people may have been in the building where a live music event was being held. As many as 32 people were taken by ambulance to three hospitals across the city and are receiving ongoing care, House said earlier today.
“This is a black day for Glasgow and for Scotland,” Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said today in televised comments. “It’s a day we can take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity.” Today is St Andrew’s Day in Scotland, the country’s official national day.
The U.K.’s Air Accident Investigation Branch said it has sent a team to the scene.
Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy said he saw a “pile of people clambering out” of the bar as he was driving past the venue last night.
“I jumped out and tried to help,” he told reporters in televised comments. “There were people with injuries. Bad gashes to the head. Some were unconscious. I don’t know how many. The helicopter was inside the pub. It’s a mess. I could only get a yard or two inside. I helped carry people out.”
The band Esperanza, playing in the pub at the time, said that while all of its members were safe, it wasn’t sure about everyone else in the building, according to their Facebook page.
William Burn, who was inside the pub listening to the band, said there was an initial “big bang” before the roof started to collapse.
“After the initial shock of the bang, people were really really calm,” he told the BBC. “I wasn’t aware it was a helicopter, the very thought if it was ridiculous. This is very difficult, people died in there.”
Gordon Smart, editor of the Sun’s Scottish edition, said he saw the helicopter come down.
“I was in a car park and looked up and saw a helicopter,” Smart told Sky News. “It was just such a surreal moment. It looked like it was dropping from a great height at a great speed. There was no fire ball and I did not hear an explosion. It fell like a stone. The engine seemed to be spluttering.”
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the incident was a “tragic event.”
“I want to thank the emergency services who worked tirelessly throughout the night and I also want pay tribute to the bravery of the ordinary Glaswegians who rushed to help,” Cameron said in an e-mailed statement today.