Helicopter wreckage pulled clear

Helicopter wreckage pulled clear

The wreckage of a police helicopter which crashed on to a pub in Glasgow, killing at least nine people, has been lifted from the building.

Three people on board the aircraft died when it landed on the Clutha Vaults bar as it returned from a police operation in Glasgow on Friday night.

Six people inside the pub were killed and police have not ruled out the possibility that more bodies could be recovered from the building.

The remains of the three-tonne Eurocopter has been lifted from the scene as the recovery operation and accident investigation continues.

The rotor blades and part of the tail were removed yesterday and the fuselage was secured and winched slowly through the roof of the building this morning. Specialist officers stood on either side of the aircraft as it was raised inch by inch by a crane.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer David Goodhew said: “Crews have been tunnelling underneath the helicopter to try to find further casualties and remove those where necessary.

“The helicopter is sheeted up. It’s extensively damaged.

“We will move it out, it will be in the air for a short while then be placed on the ground.

“As soon as it is on the ground, crews will be immediately put back into the building to complete their search and hopefully we will have completed the search within the next 90 minutes to two hours.”

Pilot David Traill, 51, died, along with officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43.

Two victims who were inside the pub have been named as 48-year-old Gary Arthur from Paisley and Samuel McGhee, 56, from Glasgow.

The popular bar was hosting live music on Friday night and was packed with more than 100 people when the accident happened at 10.25pm.

Twelve of the 32 people taken to hospital continue to receive treatment, with three in intensive care.

Mr Goodhew said: "The building has been totally devastated. It's totally unrecognisable in most parts.

“There’s a large amount of debris that’s underneath the helicopter and therefore you have to dig in slowly and methodically.

“Crews have been working tirelessly. We’ve been rotating crews, we’ve used specialist crews, urban search and rescue, every rescue crew.

“They have been committed to the building the whole time, trying to search.

“Crews have not stopped working to get everybody out.”

He described the operation as “incredibly difficult”.

He said: “It’s one of the most difficult operations, I think, of this type in the country.

“The helicopter has landed in a building that’s fully packed.

“It has been damaged in such a way that it couldn’t just be lifted.

“We’ve had to tunnel underneath the helicopter to try and find casualties but also in order to make the helicopter safe to lift.

“It’s been in an unsafe, unstable condition throughout.

“Effectively the helicopter has had to be held together with straps.”

There has been some criticism over the speed of the rescue operation from the families of those still missing.

Mark O’Prey has not been seen since the aircraft came down and relatives said they believed the helicopter recovery was taking precedence over the removal of bodies.

His sister Louise told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “We just need to know. It’s too long now, really.

“We feel as a family that the priority is given to the integrity and keeping that helicopter intact, which is no use to us.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said crews had been working as quickly and safely as possible.

“It’s important that the helicopter is removed in a way that firstly preserves the dignity of the victims inside the pub, but secondly doesn’t impose any unnecessary risks on the people carrying out this work,” she said.

“I fully and completely understand the frustration and the anguish for people who are waiting for news.”

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