Police helicopter crashes onto crowded bar in Glasgow – 8 confirmed dead, many more badly injured
A police helicopter has crashed into a crowded bar, smashing through the flat roof and entering the building. The bar was full of people listening to live music. The helicopter, weighing around 3 tonnes, did huge damage to the building (there was no fire though) and many people were trapped in collapsed masonry and rubble. The three in the helicopter died, and 5 others s far are confirmed dead. There are many others seriously injured, as well as more with minor injuries. The helicopter apparently does not have a black box. Accident investigators are already working to establish the cause of the accident. Some eye witness reports indicate the rotors stopped and the helicopter virtually fell to the ground. The helicopter is an Eurocopter EC135 T2, which is the standard Scottish police helicopter. It began service in 1996 and there are now around 1,000 in operation, for police and emergency services. Witnesses spoke of hearing the helicopter’s engine spluttering as it fell. The crash will add to pressure on the Government to look into the safety of helicopters. Last week, the Transport minister Robert Goodwill rejected calls for a full-scale public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.
30 November 2013 (BBC)
Glasgow helicopter crash: Police name dead man
Police have named one of the eight people who died after a helicopter crashed into a busy Glasgow pub.
Gary Arthur, 48, was from the Paisley area, Police Scotland said.
Three people inside the helicopter and five people inside The Clutha were killed after the Police Scotland aircraft came down at 22:30 on Friday.
A further 14 people are being treated for “very serious injuries”. Prayers for the dead will be said at a service at Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday.
Police Scotland said in a statement that “the body of a male has been recovered from the scene”.
“The male has now been identified as Gary Arthur, aged 48, from the Paisley area. His family have been informed.
“Extensive efforts continue to recover the remaining bodies from the scene but, due to ongoing safety constraints, this is likely to take some time.”
Officers from Police Scotland’s major investigations team have asked for any footage of the incident or surrounding areas to be emailed to the dedicated address: email@example.com
The investigation will run in parallel with one being run by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
A total of 32 people were hurt in the crash – 14 of them seriously.
Dr Jennifer Armstrong, medical director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said 18 of the injured people had now been treated and discharged.
“The main injuries we have seen include chest injuries, head injuries, long-bone fractures and lacerations,” she said.
It is thought that about 120 people were in the pub at the time of the crash.
Many were rescued or escaped but others were trapped by a collapse on the left-hand side of the building.
The three occupants of the helicopter who died were two police officers and a civilian pilot.
A significant number of personnel from Police Scotland, The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Ambulance Service are still at the scene.
Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House told a news conference on Saturday afternoon that they would remain there for some time.
He said: “This is a complex and ongoing rescue operation. It will not be a quick operation. It is a very complicated and indeed dangerous scene.”
Chief Constable House said the operation would go on “for many days yet”.
He paid tribute to the emergency service personnel who were working at the scene and the people of Glasgow who disregarded their own personal safety to help survivors in the aftermath of the crash.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the same news conference that the increased death toll from the crash was “news that everybody today has been both dreading and expecting”.
“Our hearts go out to everyone who has been bereaved. It is impossible to imagine the grief and loss that they are experiencing,” she said.
“They should know that the thoughts and prayers of everyone across the city, and indeed across Scotland, are with them at this unimaginably difficult time.
Ms Sturgeon also praised the courage and fortitude of the emergency services and people of Glasgow in the aftermath of the crash.
She added: “I think we were all moved last night by the way in which those who were in and around the scene did everything possible to help and the outpouring of concern and kindness today, I’m sure, will be a comfort to those affected.”
Ms Sturgeon’s colleague, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, will attend a special service at Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday to offer prayers for the dead and injured.
In other developments:
- A large area of the city centre has been cordoned off
- A mass has been held at St Andrew’s Cathedral in city for those involved in crash and emergency services involved in response
- The city council has cancelled St Andrew’s Day celebrations in George Square as a mark of respect
- A minute’s silence was held ahead of the Falkirk v Rangers match
- Flags are flying at half-mast on Scottish government buildings
- Casualties were taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Western Infirmary and the Victoria Infirmary
- The Police Scotland Casualty Bureau number is 0800 092 0410 – for those concerned about relatives
- Glasgow City Council has opened a family reception centre at 40 John Street
The Police Scotland helicopter which crashed was a twin-engine Eurocopter EC135 T2.
In a statement, Eurocopter said its experts were “on standby to support the investigation in every way possible”.
“An accident investigation team from Eurocopter is on its way to Scotland to assist the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch and the BFU (German AAIB) in its efforts to investigate the cause of the accident,” the statement said.
Helicopter operator Bond Air Services said it was working with the police and emergency services.
A statement added: “Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this tragic incident.”
William Byrne, 45, from Coatbridge, who was in the pub when the helicopter came down, returned to the scene on Saturday morning.
“There was a loud bang. Then there was dust and the lights went out. It was surreal,” he told BBC Scotland.
“We didn’t know what had happened. At our side of the pub at least two people were trapped under the gantry. Myself and others lifted it up and managed to get them out. I spent some time with one injured man.”
He added: “At our side of the pub I would say there were less than 10 people injured, mainly walking wounded, not seriously injured. One girl had clearly been hit on the head – she had a big bump.
“The other side of the pub took the brunt. Myself and my friends managed to get out without a scratch. Everyone helped everyone else to get out.”
About 250 people attended a special service at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Saturday afternoon.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia told worshipers: “We pray for those who have lost their lives, who are injured, the bereaved, and the emergency services and members of the public.
“We pray for our city of Glasgow, which is in mourning today.”
One of The Clutha’s owners, Saverio Petri expressed his “heartfelt sorrow to the people who have tragically lost their lives just going out to listen to some music”.
He told the BBC that he was serving drinks in the bar when the crash happened.
He said: “I was hit with some falling debris on my head, my arm, my leg, my foot – which subsequently knocked me to the ground.
“In my situation, luckily from my point of view, is what saved me and, unfortunately, where others perished, because I’d fallen behind the bar and the debris was landing more so on the bar or bouncing off the bar and to the front of the bar.
“I managed to subsequently get up, I climbed over the debris I could. I got as many people as I could out of the bar.
“The customers in the pub were exceptional in assisting in getting the injured out of the pub.”
A statement posted on The Clutha bar’s Facebook page on Saturday stated: “Our thanks go out to all the goodwill messages and prayers for those who tragically lost their lives in the accident last night. An event beyond comprehension and belief.
“The customers who could showed the true spirit of Glasgow along with all the emergency services. Our heartfelt sorrow to all of the families of those who perished.”
The band who were playing in the pub at the time of the crash, Esperanza, released a statement on their Facebook page.
Bassist Jess wrote: “Waking up and realising that it is all definitely horribly real. Despite the situation everyone was so helpful and caring of each other.
“The police, ambulances, firefighters all did a stellar job and continue to do so today in extremely difficult conditions.”
Eddie Waltham, a former firefighter who had a friend inside the pub, told the BBC: “A roof joist came down and hit him and pushed him towards the window which is at the left side of the left door.”
He added later: “My own reaction was to run straight up to the pub.
“It was amazing to watch just how people were trying so hard to get into this building.”
Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, said his heart went out to the families affected.
He also praised the response of ordinary people in the area before the emergency services arrived.
Mr Matheson said: “People who were in the pub, the people who were in the streets and who just helped out their fellow human beings who were out having a good time.
“It’s Glasgow at its best you know, if people are in need the spontaneous response is to go to their help. And I want to pay great tribute to that and I’m very proud as leader of the city that that was the reaction. It doesn’t surprise me.”
The Queen has said her thoughts and prayers are with the victims of crash.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland
The Eurocopter EC135 T2
- Began service in 1996 and there are now around 1,000 in operation
- Used around the world by the police and emergency services
- Has capacity for one pilot and six or seven passengers
- Weighs 6,504 lbs (2,950kg)
- Maximum speed of 137kts (254 km/h)
- Twin-engined and has a maximum range of 334nm (620km)
“The response from our emergency services and citizens has been exemplary.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This is a tragic event and our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends who lost a loved one last night.
“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.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband described the crash as an “unimaginable horror”.
He added: “My thoughts are with… the people of Glasgow who are an incredibly strong people.”
In 2002, a police Eurocopter EC-135 came down in a field in Ayrshire. All three people on board survived.
In 1990, a police sergeant was killed when a Bell Jet 206 helicopter crashed in bad weather at Newton Mearns in East Renfrewshire.
‘It dropped. Just like dropping a 10p piece’: Eight dead after police helicopter crashes into packed Glasgow pub
Eight people were confirmed dead after a police helicopter crashed through the roof of a packed Glasgow music pub.
It was feared that the death toll could rise when emergency services raise the wrecked aircraft from the shell of the Clutha, a bar in central Glasgow. But police were not discounting the possibility that some people inside could still be alive, insisting that a rescue operation was still under way, although the chances appeared slim.
Last night, Scottish Police confirmed the name of the first victim of the helicopter crash was 48-year-old Gary Arthur, from the Paisley area. Emergency service sources said there could be 10, or possibly as many as 20, people, alive or dead, inside.
One grief-stricken man said yesterday he had been told that his father had been sitting in his favourite spot at the bar when the helicopter crashed down on top of him. He planned to stay outside the Clutha until he learned the fate of his father for certain.
Police confirmed that all those on board the helicopter – a civilian pilot and two police officers – were killed, along with at least five revellers in the pub on Friday night. Fourteen people were in a serious condition in hospitals yesterday, but 18 others who were treated had been allowed home.
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, described it yesterday as a “black day for Glasgow and also for Scotland”.
A view of the roof of the Clutha Vaults bar, showing where the helicopter crashed into it
The Air Accident Investigations Branch and Police Scotland both launched inquiries into the crash. Helicopter operator Bond Air Services said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened” by the incident and was working with the authorities.
Witnesses spoke of hearing the helicopter’s engine spluttering as the aircraft descended rapidly on to the pub’s roof.
The crash will add to pressure on the Government to look into the safety of helicopters. Only last week, the Transport minister Robert Goodwill rejected calls for a full-scale public inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.
From the outside, the Clutha – appeared to be intact yesterday, but the inside was described as a mess of mangled metal, dust and debris. Rescue workers covered the roof and helicopter with a protective tarpaulin.
At a press conference yesterday, Sir Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, said that the “very complicated and, indeed, dangerous” rescue operation would continue through the night and into today. He said that it was not known how many people were inside.
“The helicopter is in there and it is dominating the whole space within the building,” Sir Stephen said, standing just outside the cordoned-off area around the pub. “Until it is out of the way, we won’t know everything that is going on underneath the helicopter. We simply can’t say what the situation is at this moment definitively.”
He added: “I have to ask you to imagine the situation where the helicopter has come down and is literally sitting in the middle of the building. Until that is resolved, we can’t know everything that is in that building.”
The Eurocopter EC135 T2 helicopter hit the pub at around 10.30pm on Friday evening.
Dogs from the Trossachs Search and Rescue charity were brought in on Friday night to search the wreckage, but they were stood down at about 6am on Saturday morning. Fibre-optic cameras, specialist sound equipment and carbon-dioxide indicators to detect human breath were also used.
There had been a party atmosphere in the Clutha on Friday, with the ska band Esperanza in full swing, when, at about 10.25pm, the helicopter crashed through the roof on to the bar, filling the room with blinding, choking dust. Some initially thought that a bomb had gone off.
Eyewitnesses in the pub described how they saw the bar “buckle” before collapsing, completely crushing people below. They said the bar went dark and filled with clouds of dust that made it hard to see and breathe.
Despite chaotic scenes, people in the pub, including some who were injured, and passers-by from outside helped to rescue people from the wreckage until emergency services arrived.
Kenny Hamilton, a 48-year-old painter and decorator, told The Independent on Sunday yesterday that he had been “knocked sideways” by the gantry above the bar when the helicopter hit. He was pulled out of the wreckage and then, despite suspected cracked ribs, he helped several people lift the shattered bar so that another injured man trapped beneath it could be taken to safety.
Echoing earlier comments by Mr Salmond, Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to “the bravery of the ordinary Glaswegians who rushed to help”, and emergency services personnel “who worked tirelessly throughout the night”.
Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson described the crash as “heartbreaking”, but nevertheless took some comfort from the response. “When there is trouble and people need assistance, the people of Glasgow head towards those situations,” he said yesterday. “The motto of the city of Glasgow is ‘People make Glasgow’. That was at no better time demonstrated than last night and in the period since.”
Flags flew at half-mast across the city and the annual St Andrew’s Day celebrations in the central George Square were cancelled. Throughout the day, a steady stream of people arrived to lay flowers on the pavement outside the Holiday Express hotel, a few yards down the street from the scene but as close as police would let them.
In a personal statement, the Queen added her condolences, saying that she was “saddened to learn of the dreadful helicopter crash”.
The names of the dead were understandably slow to emerge. But a clearly distressed John McGarrigle, 38, standing outside the Clutha, said he had been told by an eyewitness that his father, also John McGarrigle, 59, was sitting “right in the spot” where the helicopter hit.
“The realisation, and just a deep instinct kicked in right away as soon as I heard there was an accident at Clutha. I just knew something bad had happened to him,” he told BBC News at the scene. “When I came round and seen where the position of the helicopter [was], that was when I knew, because he sat in that spot all the time, where the ‘copter hit. I am still shaking. I could walk in there and pinpoint him myself in the rubble.”
Mr McGarrigle said he had checked every hospital with no sign of his father and planned to stand outside the Clutha until he saw that all the casualties were removed from the pub.
The Clutha – the name means “Clyde” in Gaelic – is a popular bar in the centre of Glasgow known as one of the city’s best music venues. It was once a favourite venue for Billy Connolly when he was starting out as a comedian.
Ska band Esperanza’s bass player and general manager, Jessica Combe, said yesterday that they were “waking up and realising that it is all definitely horribly real”.
“Despite the situation, everyone was so helpful and caring of each other,” she said in a statement. “The police, ambulances, firefighters all did a stellar job and continue to do so today in extremely difficult conditions.”
A statement on the Clutha’s Facebook page said that it had been “an event beyond comprehension and belief”. It read: “Our heartfelt sorrow to all of the families of those who perished.”
Additional reporting by Victoria Finan