At least one person was killed by a police helicopter crash that wrecked a busy Glasgow pub, with the death toll set to rise yesterday as rescuers battled to find survivors.
The chopper smashed into the roof of The Clutha pub, where more than 100 revelers had packed in to watch a band play on Friday night ahead of St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s national day celebrating its patron saint.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called it a “black day” for the nation as emergency service workers tried to make the one-story building secure enough to permit full access to the scene.
Police said 32 people had been taken by ambulance to three hospitals across Scotland’s biggest city after the helicopter plunged into the city center bar at 10:25pm.
“Sadly, I can also confirm one fatality. We expect that number to increase over the coming hours,” Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House told reporters. “Given the damage caused and the nature of the damage, it will take some time to complete the search of the building.”
Asked if there were people still alive trapped inside, House replied: “We can’t say that definitively at this moment in time.”
Witnesses said the helicopter, with two police officers and a civilian pilot on board, 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.
Emergency services worked through the night in a bid to recover people from the wreckage.
A photographer at the scene said the helicopter appeared to have smashed through the top of the bar, with a rotor blade sticking out of the roof.
The site by the banks of the River Clyde had been cordoned off, with emergency service workers visible on the roof yesterday.
A tarpaulin had been placed over the area where the helicopter hit.