Authorities investigate Glasgow pub helicopter crash

Authorities were on Sunday investigating what caused a police helicopter to plunge through the roof of a busy Glasgow pub, as emergency services worked to recover the remains of at least eight people killed.

AFP| Updated: Dec 01, 2013, 12:40 PM IST

Glasgow: Authorities were on Sunday investigating what caused a police helicopter to plunge through the roof of a busy Glasgow pub, as emergency services worked to recover the remains of at least eight people killed.

Police said recovery work was difficult because the wreckage of the Clutha pub was still unsafe following Friday night`s freak accident, while 14 people were still in hospital with serious injuries.

Special prayers for the dead will be held at Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday as the nation mourns on what was supposed to be a weekend of festivities for Saint Andrew`s Day.

Witnesses said the helicopter dropped "like a stone" onto the pub where more than 100 people were watching a band play. Three people on the helicopter and five people in the bar are so far known to have been killed.

The first victim whose body was recovered from the scene was named as Gary Arthur, 48, from the Paisley area of Glasgow, whose daughter Chloe plays for the women`s first team of Celtic football club.

"Extensive efforts continue to recover the remaining bodies from the scene but due to ongoing safety constraints this is likely to take some time," Police Scotland said in a statement.

The wreckage of the Eurocopter EC135 on the roof remained covered by a tarpaulin more than 24 hours after the accident, with one of the rotors still visible, with a crane also on site.

Police appealed for anyone with video footage of the crash to send it to them, saying it "may be of help to the team as they investigate the cause of the crash".

Britain`s Air Accident Investigation Bureau said it had sent a team to the scene amid reports that the company that leased the chopper to the police had temporarily grounded that model last year.

Bond Air Services found a crack on part of the main rotor and grounded its fleet of 22 EC135s for a month while it carried out checks and reported it to Eurocopter and the European Aviation Safety Agency, the Guardian said.

Bond was not immediately available for comment.

People inside the bar said they heard a heavy thud before the roof caved in and the air filled with dust and screams. Most were not aware until later that a helicopter had crashed on to the building.

Afterwards pubgoers and passers-by formed a "human chain" to help the wounded while emergency services worked through the night in a bid to recover people from the wreckage.

Throughout Saturday people stood at the cordon 30 yards back from the scene, their hopes fading by the hour for missing friends and loved ones.

John McGarrigle was desperately waiting for news of his father.

"I think he was in there when it crashed," the 38-year-old said, showing journalists a picture on his mobile phone of him standing with his 59-year-old father who had been in the pub.

"I`ve checked every hospital and there`s no sign of him," said his son.

Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House said the two officers and the civilian pilot aboard the police helicopter were killed along with five people inside the pub. Thirty-two people were injured of whom 18 were later discharged.

"You can imagine the terror of the situation when a helicopter came through the top of the building," House said.

"We are dealing with a very sensitive investigation and operation here. It will go on for many days yet."

The injured had "chest injuries, head injuries, long-bone fractures and lacerations", said Jennifer Armstrong, medical director of the Greater Glasgow Health Board.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called it a "black day" and ordered flags to fly at half-mast.

A minute`s silence was held ahead of a football match between Falkirk and Rangers.

"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," said the nationalist leader, who just days ago was celebrating the release of a legal blueprint for Scottish independence.

Queen Elizabeth said her prayers were with the victims while Prime Minister David Cameron praised the "bravery of the ordinary Glaswegians" who rushed to help.