At Least Eight Dead After Helicopter Crashes Into Packed Scotland Pub

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 30 2013 12:15 PM

At Least Eight Dead After Helicopter Crashes Into Packed Scotland Pub

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Rescue workers attend the scene at a pub on Stockwell Street where a police helicopter crashed on the banks of the River Clyde

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

UPDATE: Scottish officials raised the death toll to eight people, increasing it beyond the most pessimistic estimates. The authorities emphasized the rescue operation is ongoing and hinted that there could be more bodies amid the rubble. The helicopter is "dominating the whole space" and until that is cleared "we won't know what is going on," Chief Constable Stephen House said, according to the Associated Press.

Three of the dead were found inside the helicopter, which was carrying two police officers and a civilian pilot.

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UPDATE Nov. 30 at 10a.m.: Emergency workers continued to search through the rubble in Scotland on Saturday after a police helicopter crashed into the roof of Glasgow’s Clutha pub on Friday night, when more than 100 people were inside. Scottish police have so far confirmed one dead but have said the death toll is expected to rise, reports Reuters. The BBC hears word that three people have died and the Telegraphreports that as many as six are feared dead. Firefighters working through the night have made contact with several survivors still trapped inside, although the state of their injuries remains unclear. A total of 32 people were taken by ambulance to nearby hospitals.

The crash took place 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, according to the Associated Press.

More eyewitnesses have emerged to tell of the surreal scene that followed the crash as patrons were listening to Glasgow-based Ska band Esperanza. "We were watching the band and there was kind of like a (roof) panel fell, there was a whoosh of dust, then we laughed that the band said, 'We didn't think we were going to bring the roof down,'" Grace Maclean tells CNN. "The roof didn't come down. ... It didn't come completely down anyway."

The band’s bassist, Jess, wrote a post in Esperanza’s Facebook wall: “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.”

Original post on Nov. 30 at 8:09 p.m.: A police helicopter crashed into the roof of a popular pub in Glasgow Friday night shortly before 11 p.m., according to the Guardian. "Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities,” First Minister Alex Salmond said. There were reports of people forming a “human chain” to help get the people who were trapped inside the pub out, reports the Telegraph. So far there are reports of multiple injuries but it isn’t clear whether anyone has died.

A band was playing at the Clutha pub when suddenly there was the sound of a “giant explosion,” according to an eyewitness who talked to the BBC. “Part of the room was covered in dust. We didn't know what had happened. We froze for a second; there was panic and then people trying to get out the door.”

Labour Party spokesman Jim Murphy happened to be in the area when the helicopter crashed.

“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, according to the Associated Press. “I saw a pile of people clambering out of the pub in the dust. No smoke, no fire, just a huge amount of dust.”

Prime Minister David Cameron took to Twitter to express his support: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow - and the emergency services working tonight.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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