LONDON (AP) — Rescuers worked through the night and into Saturday morning to rescue an unknown number of people trapped inside a Scottish pub after a police helicopter crashed through its roof during a packed concert, causing numerous casualties.
Police said early Saturday 32 people were taken to hospitals across Glasgow after the incident at The Clutha pub in the city center. No fatalities had been reported.
"We are working hard to recover people still inside the building and we will make further details available when we have them," Dep. Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
She said police and air-safety investigators have begun inquiries, but that it is too early to say why the Eurocopter EC135 T2 helicopter — carrying two police officers and a civilian pilot — came down.
Authorities said they had made contact with people still inside The Clutha, where a ska band was performing when the helicopter came down. Search and rescue dogs were on the scene, along with more than 100 firefighters.
Witnesses spoke of people streaming out of the building covered in blood, with gashes and other injuries.
"Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities," Scotland's leader, Alex Salmond, said on his official Twitter account.
The crash Friday at around 10:30 p.m. local time sent dozens of patrons fleeing through a cloud of dust.
Asst. Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said teams — including 125 firefighters on the scene — were working to stabilize the building and get people out.
As dawn broke, firefighters clambered on to the collapsed roof and pulled tarps over the wreckage of the helicopter. There was no word on the fate of those aboard.
Grace MacLean, who was inside the pub at the time, said she heard a "whoosh" noise and then saw smoke.
"The band were laughing, and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down," she told the BBC. "They carried on playing, and then it started to come down more, and someone started screaming, and then the whole pub just filled with dust. You couldn't see anything, you couldn't breathe."
Retired firefighter Edward Waltham said he ran into the pub to help rescuers, and found on man covered in dust and apparently badly injured.
"My initial reaction for him from my experience was to try not to move him because he had been in a crush situation," Waltham told BBC News. "But as we were lying there other people were literally being pulled out of the pub and more or less thrown on top of us."
People formed a human chain to help pass unconscious people out of the pub so that "inch by inch, we could get the people out," said Labour Party spokesman Jim Murphy, who was in the area when the helicopter came down.
"The helicopter was inside the pub. It's a mess. I could only get a yard or two inside. I helped carry people out," Murphy told Sky News. "I saw a pile of people clambering out of the pub in the dust. No smoke, no fire, just a huge amount of dust."
The twin-engined Eurocopter is widely used by police and ambulance services.
In 2007, a Eurocopter EC135 T2 crashed in southern England. The pilot and his wife were unhurt, but the aircraft was badly damaged. Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said there had been a failure of the autotrim system which maintains the aircraft's position. The agency recommended changes to correct the problem.
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