Quest: Glaswegians dazed by pub helicopter crash

Story highlights

  • Locals in Glasgow stunned by crash of a police helicopter into a busy pub
  • Accident killed at least nine people and left at least 14 seriously injured
  • Richard Quest says no one pushed to escape; instead they set up human chains
  • Rescue is dangerous since wrong move could bring down the rest of the building

There is a feeling of palpable shock in the Merchant district of Glasgow after a police helicopter crashed into a the Clutha bar, which was packed with about 150 people. The accident, which killed at least nine people and left at least 14 seriously injured, happened in a bustling part of the city, where the drinks are served strong and the nightlife goes late.

What's been remarkable are the stories of how people behaved on the night. There are no tales of people pushing and climbing over each other to get out. Rather the opposite is true -- those inside set up chain gangs to move debris, helping the injured get out. Passerby including a local Member of Parliament rushed towards the danger to help out.

Next to the crash site is the local Holiday Inn, which has remained open throughout. It makes an odd sight: cranes and rescue workers digging through the debris of the collapsed pub while guests at the hotel drag their bags up and down the closed roads passing the media and having their names checked by the police to get back in the hotel.

The Clutha was a pub everyone knew and loved with a feeling of community. One man who was there on Friday night came to lay flowers, his head fully bandaged, and with cuts on his face from injuries he received in the crash. Moira, who turned up to lay flowers at the scene of the crash, told me she would regularly go there to hang out and hear music. She had decided not to go last Friday night.

All weekend Glaswegians have been coming to get as close as they can to see the crash site with the helicopter rotors just sticking out from the roof. And in the streets around the pub the police continue to go door to door asking finding out what people may have seen.

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The locals are calling this unthinkable and even those who were nowhere near the site are dazed when they come here and see what happened.

There is now the slow, painstaking work of removing the helicopter from the pub, piece by piece. So far the rotors have been dismantled and now they are planning how to lift the body of the aircraft out of the building. It is dangerous since the slightest wrong move could bring down the rest of the building and potentially injure the rescuers.

The Chief Constable of Police Scotland summed up this tragedy. Paraphrasing he said imagine the scene, you are having a drink and a good night out when a helicopter crashes through the roof. This is the awfulness of what happened here: the very ordinary suddenly became out of this world.