A police helicopter has crashed into a busy pub on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow.
The crash happened at The Clutha in Stockwell Street at 22:25 on Friday.
Police Scotland confirmed there were three people on board the helicopter – two officers and a civilian pilot.
There have been “numerous” casualties but police have not confirmed whether anyone has died. It is not known how many people are still trapped inside the pub.
A senior fire officer said they had made contact with some people trapped inside the pub but the building was very unsafe and they were taking a “methodical” approach to the rescue.
It has been reported that about 120 people were in the pub at the time of the crash. Many were rescued or escaped but others have been trapped by a collapse on the left-hand side of the building.
- The Police Scotland helicopter crashed on to the roof of the crowded Clutha pub on the banks of the River Clyde in the centre of Glasgow at 22:25
- Police Scotland said two of its officers and a civilian pilot were on board but it could not confirm any details of injuries
- It is thought about 120 people were in the pub at the time of the crash
- Eyewitnesses described seeing the helicopter falling like a stone from the sky
- Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said given an incident of this scale we must prepare ourselves for fatalities
- The Police Scotland Casualty Bureau number is 0800 092 0410.
- Callers should ONLY contact the Casualty Bureau number if they have concerns for relatives who may have been in the Clutha Vaults pub or surrounding area at the time of the incident.
- Police have said there were “a number of casualties” but it was too early to provide details
- The fire service said there were people trapped in the building but they could not say how many
- The building is unsafe and the rescue is continuing “methodically”.
Some of the injured were taken to a nearby Holiday Inn Express, while more serious casualties were being treated in hospital.
As he left the Accident and Emergency Department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, a member of staff who did not want to be interviewed was asked how serious the injuries were. He replied with one word: “Very”.
A large area of the city centre has been cordoned off.
The emergency services could be seen on the roof of the pub trying to rescue people from inside.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it had a specialist urban search and rescue crew at the scene.
Assistant chief officer Lewis Ramsay said: “Our officers are working very hard in what is a very complex and hard environment for them.
“We are in the process at the moment of making the building stable. It is very unsafe”.
He said it was “difficult to tell” how many people were still inside.
He added: “We have had some contact (with those inside) and we are working away just now to make sure that the building is safe in order to get people out.
“We have got 125 firefighters here and they are not only working outside the perimeter of the building, they are working inside. They have been in the cellar, they have been on the roof.”
He said “numerous” casualties were removed at the start of the incident and had been taken to hospital and other locations.
Images of the crash showed the wreckage of a dark blue helicopter with a yellow “POLICE” insignia lying on the roof of the pub.
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: “At 22:25 on Friday evening, the Police Scotland helicopter – a Eurocopter EC135 T2 – came down on the roof of the Clutha Vaults pub in Stockwell Street, Glasgow.
“There were three people on board – two police officers and a civilian pilot. There were a number of customers inside the bar at the time.”
She said the rescue operation was ongoing and it was too early to provide any details around why the helicopter came down.
“I can confirm there are a number of casualties but it is too early at this stage to provide further details,” Deputy Chief Constable Fitzpatrick said.
Helicopter operator Bond Air Services said it was working with the police and emergency services.
Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire, was in the area at the time of the crash and said he ran into the pub to help before the emergency services arrived on the scene.
He told the BBC: “I was just a few yards away and I arrived on the scene outside the pub a few seconds after the impact. No-one knew what it was but you saw the pandemonium of the people trying to get out of the pub.
“It was almost like slow motion. Like other people you just do what you can to help.”
Mr Murphy, who is the shadow international development minister, said it was a “horrific scene”. He added: “As you stood there you could see the helicopter embedded in the roof and sticking out the top of the roof and you knew it was something really serious.”
Mr Murphy, who had blood on his shirt which he said was not his, said he did not see the crash happen and it was all a bit of a blur for a few minutes before the emergency services arrived.
He added: “People just formed a bit of human chain, side by side with each other, to help pull injured people out.”
Eyewitness Fraser Gibson, 34, was inside the pub with his brother to see his former band, Esperanza.
“Midway through their set it sounded like a giant explosion,” he told BBC Scotland.
“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.”
Mr Gibson said that immediately following the incident there was a suggestion that a helicopter had crashed into the roof of the pub.
“There was no obvious sign of that,” he said. “I couldn’t hear of any rotors or anything like that before the event happened or any sign when we came out of the pub.”
“I would say there was maybe 120 people inside the pub. A lot of people managed to get out straight away, but it was hard to tell how many were actually trapped in the other half of the bar.
“We wanted to get out of the way and let the emergency services get in there to help.
“I spoke to one of my former band members and he’s as much in the dark over the situation as me.
“We checked that each other was safe and the rest of the band were safe. The immediate group I was with are all safe.
“We’re obviously very concerned about what casualties have been sustained in the incident.
“There were no signs (of a helicopter) at all. The roof had just totally collapsed, there were shards of wood sticking out the top but nothing that said there had been a helicopter crash.”
BBC Scotland reporter Andrew Kerr said: “I live nearby and actually heard the helicopter overhead just around that time and there was a definite change in the rotor noise and then there was just silence.
“I thought nothing more of it until I heard the sirens. The actual Police Scotland helicopter SP99 is based just two miles west along the River Clyde. It is well-known for the people of Glasgow to see, covering things like football matches in the city.”
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.”
She added the pub was very popular and would have been busy on a Friday night.
First Minister Alex Salmond tweeted: “The emergency services are in full operation. Our thoughts are with everyone involved. Scottish resilience operation now mobilised.”
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow – and the emergency services working tonight.”
In 2002, a police Eurocopter EC-135 came down in a field in Ayrshire. All three people on board survived.
In 1990, a police sergeant was killed when a Bell Jet 206 helicopter crashed in bad weather at Newton Mearns in East Renfrewshire.
Gordon Smart, editor of the Scottish Sun, told the BBC:
I can’t really believe what’s happened. I was on the phone at the time and I heard a misfiring engine. Looked above me, couldn’t work out where it was coming from, it got louder and louder and I just spotted a helicopter falling from the sky.
It was falling at great speed. It looked like the rotors weren’t spinning but the helicopter was sort of turning in a strange position and dropping at great speed. Oddly enough there was no explosion no fire ball.
It’s a busy Friday night, a lot of people have been out in the pubs, there are a lot of pubs in that area. I do fear… I would be staggered if there weren’t fatalities from the area it’s landed.