Scottish copter crash: At least 8 dead, but a ‘miracle’ more not killed
(CNN) — Authorities found eight bodies Saturday in the ruins of a Glasgow pub struck by a police helicopter and feared more would be discovered as they slowly explored the unstable building.
But it might have been much worse, according to a senior journalist who saw the crash.
The downtown Clutha Bar was packed with about 150 people listening to a band about 10:15 p.m. Friday, but far more people would have been endangered just a short walk away in Glasgow’s central shopping district, said Gordon Smart, editor of the Scottish Sun newspaper.
From a nearby parking deck, Smart watched the helicopter tumble into the bar and waited for an explosion and fireball. A blast might have killed hundreds in the busy area, Smart said.
Instead, he said, there was an “eerie silence.”
“I think it’s a miracle that more people didn’t die,” Smart told CNN.
Three perish on helicopter, at least five on ground
Three of the dead were two police officers and the civilian pilot of the helicopter, Chief Constable Stephen House of Police Scotland said. Five more victims had been inside the pub.
Fourteen people remain seriously injured in Glasgow hospitals, House said. Earlier, police said 32 in total were taken to local hospitals.
Glasgow police early Sunday announced that one body had been removed from the building, with more still inside.
“Safety work will continue during the evening to stabilize the building and helicopter to ensure a safe working environment for emergency personnel,” a police statement said.
House said he expected the recovery operation to continue for “many days.”
Authorities offered no theories on the cause of the crash.
Police Scotland used its Facebook page to appeal to the public for “any photographs, audio or video footage they have of the incident or surroundings areas.”
‘Fell from the sky like a stone’
Smart was on top of a six-story parking deck when he heard a gargling sound “like a car running out of petrol but incredibly loud.”
“I looked around, and in front of me, between 500 feet and 1,000 feet in the air, I could see a helicopter in distress. And then suddenly it just completely lost power and fell from the sky like a stone and tumbled over, nose over tail,” Smart said.
From his vantage point in front of the pub, Smart could not see the helicopter after impact.
‘What I did see, and it’s something that will stick with me for the rest of my life, was Glaswegian people running toward the scene, not away from the scene, people running to help, not running away from what could have been a huge explosion,” Smart said.
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