A police helicopter crashed into the roof of a pub in Glasgow on Friday evening. One eyewitnesses said the aircraft dropped "from a great height at a great speed... like a stone". Rescue efforts were in "full operation", according to Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond, while police confirmed that two officer and a civilian were on board during the incident.
Salmond added that there was a "likelihood" of fatalities after the helicopter crashed through the roof of the Clutha bar, close to the Clyde River.
"A major incident has been declared after the Eurocopter EC135 T2 - with a crew of three consisting of two police officers and a civilian pilot - came down on the roof of a pub in Stockwell Street at 10.25pm,” said a local police spokesperson. "Emergency services responded immediately and remain at the scene at the present time. Cordons have been put in place to allow the rescue operation to take place."
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The First Minister tweeted: "I can confirm that it is a police helicopter which has been involved in the tragic accident in Glasgow.
"Rescue efforts in full operation. Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities."
Labour's international development spokesman Jim Murphy said he saw a "pile of people clammering out" of the Clutha bar, adding he formed a human chain with other rescuers to help pass unconscious people out of the pub. "I was driving past about 10:15 and saw something had happened," he said. "I jumped out and tried to help. There were people with injuries. Bad gashes to the head. Some were unconscious. I don't know how many. The helicopter was inside the pub. It's a mess. I could only get a yard or two inside. I helped carry people out."
He went on: "My human instinct kicked in. I didn't like what I was seeing but I did what everyone else was doing and got stuck in. I feel like I'm in shock now. It's a horrible scene." Murphy told Sky News 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".
Gordon Smart, editor of the Sun's Scottish edition, told Sky News: "I was in a car park and looked up and saw a helicopter which I think was a police helicopter. It was just such a surreal moment. It looked like it was dropping from a great height at a great speed. I'm about 80% sure that it was a police helicopter. There was no fire ball and I did not hear an explosion. It fell like a stone. The engine seemed to be spluttering."
According to their Facebook page, nine-piece Glasgow ska band Esperanza were playing at the venue. Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub at the time of the crash, told BBC News: "There was a ska band on in the pub just at the back and it was fairly busy. "We were all just having a nice time and then there was like a 'whoosh' noise - there was no bang, there was no explosion - and then there was some smoke, what seemed like smoke. The band were laughing and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down.
Emergency services at the scene
"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. It was a real testament to the people of Glasgow, everyone in that pub was shouting 'here's the door', they were helping each other out."
A message on the band's Facebook page read: "Thanks for all the messages. I've just spoken to Jake and Jason. It seems that the band are all OK. Not so sure about everyone else." MacLean said: "People started coming out with injuries and blood and everyone was going over and trying to help out. I don't think it crashed, if it had crashed there would have been fire, there would have been a noise, but we didn't hear anything, it was the smoke that we noticed. I think maybe whoever was in the helicopter just tried to land on the roof or something. The propellers could have been on but everyone seemed to be okay. I don't know if anyone is trapped in there but there wasn't anyone screaming for someone."
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Claire Morris, who lives near the Clutha bar, told BBC News: "We heard this bang. We didn't really know what had happened and then we heard people coming out and screaming. I wasn't sure whether there had been an explosion. My daughter said to me it was a helicopter that had hit the roof. Police are everywhere. We are just very shaken. It was just a bang, my daughter said it was like a firework explosion, something like that. There doesn't appear to be a fire."
One image of the crash showed the dark blue helicopter on the roof with yellow "POLICE" insignia on part of the wreckage. The Police Roll of Honour Trust tweeted "Our thoughts are with the crew of @policescotland SP99 helicopter that has crashed in Glasgow - hoping everyone is alright."
The Scottish Ambulance Service tweeted: "Can confirm multiple ambulance crews and Special Operations Team on scene at site of helicopter crash in Glasgow." A spokeswoman for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: "It is obviously a major incident. There are numerous fire engines there; 15 fire engines at the moment along with specialist services."
Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Absolutely awful news about a helicopter crashing into the Clutha. All my thoughts are with everyone involved & the emergency services". Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow - and the emergency services working."
Glasgow Central Mosque, located close to the pub on the opposite side of the Clyde, tweeted: "Have told emergency crew that we r on standby & can make available mosque & volunteers to assist in any way to aid injured & emergency crew."