1 Dec 2013

Eight die in Glasgow helicopter crash

10:40 am on 1 December 2013

Eight people are confirmed dead after a police helicopter crashed into a packed pub in in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Scotland's chief constable of police Stephen House said the dead include the three crew of the helicopter, while another 14 people remain in hospital with serious injuries.

Witnesses said the helicopter dropped from the sky like a stone onto the crowded Clutha Pub in Scotland's biggest city at 10.25 pm on Friday night as over 100 people listened to a live music concert.

As dawn broke, expert rescue teams and firefighters were labouring to make the pub safe and free anyone still under the rubble. Earlier, rescuers said they had spoken to people trapped under debris.

The 12-metre helicopter spiralled into the pub in a busy area of Glasgow, destroying part of the roof.

"It was fairly busy, we were all having a nice time and then there was like a 'whoosh' noise," Grace MacLean, who was in the pub at the time, told the BBC.

"There was no bang, no explosion and then there was what seemed like smoke and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down, and then it started to come down more and someone started screaming, and the whole pub filled with dust and you couldn't see anything, you couldn't breath."

Police said it was too early to speculate on what caused the Eurocopter EC135 T2, made by a subsidiary of EADS, to come down. The aircraft did not appear to have caught fire. The Air Accident Investigation Branch has begun an investigation.

Tearful relatives and friends of those caught up in the incident gathered during the day, some laying flowers at the scene, and Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister David Cameron were among those to express their sympathy.

"This is a black day for Glasgow and for Scotland," said Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, noting that Saturday was St Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day.

Celebrations in Glasgow were cancelled, flags were flown at half-mast on government buildings and a special service was held at Glasgow's Roman Catholic cathedral.