Eight people died when a police helicopter crashed onto a busy Glasgow pub, plunging through the roof of the packed bar.
Fourteen are seriously injured in hospitals across Scotland’s biggest city after the chopper smashed into The Clutha pub on Friday night, where well over 100 revellers had been watching a band play on.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called it a “black day” for the nation as emergency service workers toiled inside the one-storey building to get round the rubble.
While Scotland should have been celebrating its national day, instead worried friends and relatives spent St Andrew’s Day praying their loved ones were not among the fatalities, who have not yet been named.
Chief Constable Stephen House said the two officers and the civilian pilot aboard the police helicopter and five people inside The Clutha were dead.
“You can imagine the terror of the situation when a helicopter came through the top of the building,” he said.
House says the rescue mission is complex and will take time, adding that he doesn’t know if there are more people trapped inside.
“We are dealing with a very sensitive investigation and operation here. It will go on for many days yet,” Scotland’s police chief told reporters at the scene.
“Imagine the situation where the helicopter has come down and is almost literally sitting in the middle of the building. Until that is resolved, we can’t know everything that is inside.”
Thirty-two people were taken by ambulance to three hospitals following the incident, which took place at 10.25pm local time.
Witnesses say the helicopter dropped like a stone, while people inside the bar heard a heavy thud before the roof caved in and the air filled with dust and screams.
After pubgoers and passers-by did what they could to get the wounded to safety, emergency services worked through the night in a bid to recover people from the wreckage.
Now covered by a tarpaulin, one of the Eurocopter EC135 T2’s rotor blades could be seen jutting out of the roof at a jagged angle.
People stood at the cordon 30 metres back, their hopes fading by the hour for missing friends and loved ones.