32 to Hospital After Glasgow Helicopter Crash

GLASGOW, Scotland — Scottish
emergency workers were sifting
through wreckage Saturday for
survivors of a police helicopter crash
onto a crowded Glasgow pub that has
killed at least one person and injured
more than two dozen. The number of
fatalities is expected to rise, officials
said.
The Clutha pub, near the banks of the
River Clyde, was packed Friday night
and a ska band was in full swing when
the chopper slammed through the roof.
Search and rescue teams are hoping to
find survivors even though police
couldn't say for sure whether people
were still trapped inside the pub. The
crash happened on the eve of St.
Andrew's Day, Scotland's official
national holiday.
"This is a black day for Glasgow and
Scotland but it's also St Andrew's Day,
and it's a day we can take pride and
courage in how we respond to adversity
and tragedy," Scottish leader Alex
Salmond said.
Chief Constable Stephen House
confirmed that overnight 32 people
were taken by ambulance to hospitals
in following the crash.
"Sadly at this time I can also confirm
one fatality," he told reporters. "We
expect that number to increase over the
coming hours."
House said specialist teams are working
to make sure everyone is recovered
from the scene, where revelers were
packed into the pub to hear Esperanza,
a local ska band, when the helicopter
crashed through the roof.
"Highly trained firefighters from all
over Scotland are carrying out rescue
operations at the scene," House said.
"They are continuing to make the
building safe to allow full examination
of the scene to ensure that everyone is
recovered."
There were no ambulances visible on
the scene by late morning Saturday,
but groups of people huddled around a
police cordon, some visibly upset and
crying. A blue tarpaulin had been
spread on the roof of the Clutha bar in
Glasgow, but the shapes of the blades
and mangled fuselage were clearly
visible from the street.
The crash Friday at around 10:30 p.m.
sent dozens of patrons fleeing through
a cloud of dust. Witnesses spoke of
people streaming out of the building
covered in blood, with gashes and other
injuries.
Local resident Paul Dundas, 26, told
how he heard a loud bang and looked
out of his window to see a plume of
dust rising above the pub.
"At first I thought it was a firework ,"
he said, describing the "horrible scene"
he discovered upon going down to the
street level.
"People were covered in blood and
dust. Other people were dragging them
away from the bar and trying to get
them out," he said. "Everyone was in
shock, but people were helping and
asking strangers if they were O.K. I
saw a couple help each other clean up
their faces.
Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub
at the time, said she heard a "whoosh"
noise and then saw smoke.
"The band were laughing, and we were
all joking that the band had made the
roof come down," she told the BBC.
"They carried on playing, and then it
started to come down more, and
someone started screaming, and then
the whole pub just filled with dust. You
couldn't see anything, you couldn't
breathe."
People formed a human chain to help
pass unconscious people out of the pub
so that "inch by inch, we could get the
people out," said Labour Party
spokesman Jim Murphy, who was in the
area when the helicopter came down.
"The helicopter was inside the pub. It's
a mess. I could only get a yard or two
inside. I helped carry people out,"
Murphy told Sky News. "I saw a pile of
people clambering out of the pub in the
dust. No smoke, no fire, just a huge
amount of dust."
Police and air-safety investigators have
begun inquiries, but say it is too early
to say why the Eurocopter EC135 T2
helicopter — carrying two police
officers and a civilian pilot — came
down on the pub's roof, close to a
helipad on the banks of the River
Clyde.
The twin-engined Eurocopter is widely
used by police and ambulance services.
In 2007, a Eurocopter EC135 T2
crashed in southern England. The pilot
and his wife were unhurt, but the
aircraft was badly damaged. Britain's
Air Accidents Investigation Branch said
there had been a failure of the
autotrim system which maintains the
aircraft's position. The agency
recommended changes to correct the
problem.
Esperanza, the band which was playing
in The Clutha when the crash occurred,
joined in the heaps of praise showered
on rescue officials.
"Waking up and realizing that it is all
definitely horribly real," the band
wrote on its official Facebook page.
"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."
Glasgow, a city of about 600,000
people, has transformed its traditional
image of being a rough and tumble city
to one with a vibrant music and arts
scene. It was also among the cities that
hosted Olympic soccer matches in 2012
and will hold the Commonwealth
Games in 2014.