Helicopter crash search ends

Herald Series: Nine people have been confirmed dead after a police helicopter crashed into a Glasgow pub Nine people have been confirmed dead after a police helicopter crashed into a Glasgow pub

The search and recovery operation at the site of the Glasgow helicopter crash has concluded, with officials satisfied there are no further fatalities at the scene, police said.

A police helicopter crashed into the roof of the busy Clutha bar in the city on Friday night.

The bodies of nine people were recovered earlier from the scene during a "difficult and complex" operation.

Tonight, Police Scotland said the final number of fatalities from the incident stands at nine.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: "I can confirm that the search and recovery operation has now concluded and we are satisfied there are no further fatalities at the scene. In total, nine people died as a result of the incident."

The crash site is subject to an ongoing police investigation but management of the incident scene has been handed over to the city council.

All three of the helicopter's crew died when it landed on the popular bar as it returned from a police operation at 10.25pm.

Six people inside the packed pub were also killed.

Five crash victims have been named so far. They are pilot David Traill, 51, who died along with police 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.

No further victims were named by police tonight, but officers said they are working hard to identify the remaining people who died.

Eleven people remain in hospital, down slightly from the 12 known to have been in hospitals across the city earlier today.

Det Chief Con Fitzpatrick said: "We are working hard to formally identify the remaining victims as soon as possible in order to bring some certainty to the families who have been waiting for news since the tragic incident on Friday.

"As many have acknowledged, it has been a difficult and complex recovery operation, made the more challenging for those in the emergency services who have been working at the scene who have also lost their colleagues and friends.

"The scene is subject to our ongoing police investigation, led by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and the inquiry by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

"However, the management of the incident scene has now been handed over from the emergency services to Glasgow City Council."

The wreckage of the three-tonne Eurocopter was earlier removed from the building in a painstaking operation which allowed emergency services to search the area inside the bar.

The helicopter was loaded on to a lorry and is destined for the AAIB base in Farnborough, Hampshire.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's (SFRS) Assistant Chief Officer, David Goodhew, confirmed that the incident has now been passed to Police Scotland and the local authority.

He said: "Our role today has been to ensure the extraction of the helicopter from the crash site.

"Once this was completed it allowed our urban search and rescue crews access to conduct a final fingertip search of the scene which confirmed there were no further fatalities within the premises.

"We will of course continue to support our colleagues in the police and other partner agencies as they conduct their investigation. Two SFRS crews, including a team of specialist urban search and rescue firefighters, will remain in attendance."

Giving more details, Mr Goodhew said fire crews carried out a fingertip search of the premises once the bodies were removed from the scene.

He told reporters at the scene: "The helicopter was lifted clear of the building today. That alllowed specialist fire and rescue crews to reach and recover the remaining bodies that were sadly trapped beneath the helicopter.

"They were shortly removed and since that time fire service crews have undertaken a fingertip search of the entire premises to make sure there was nobody else inside.

"Specialist crews will remain on site tonight from the fire service and they will work with the local authority building control inspectors to ensure that the stability of the building is maintained and also work with specialist police officers to help them undertake the investigations to follow."

Glasgow City Council chief executive George Black said there is much work still to do.

He said: "This has been a very difficult time for Glasgow. Every Glaswegian is immensely grateful for the work the emergency services have done for us since Friday night.

"And every Glaswegian is immensely proud of their fellow citizens who ran towards trouble when they were needed. While the initial response to this incident has now come to an end, we still have work to do - in supporting those who are grieving or traumatised; in supporting businesses whose work has been disrupted; and, while for many people the city will never truly be the same, in helping Glasgow to return to something like normality.

"Once again I express my thanks to all of our partners, but this work is just beginning."

A minute's silence was held in Glasgow's George Square at 6pm to mark the tragedy.

Many families, who were visiting the Christmas fair in the square, stopped to remember those who died, and rides and ice skating were stopped while the silence was observed.

An investigation into what caused the helicopter to drop out of the sky ''like a stone'' is under way.

Air accident investigators said the helicopter made a vertical descent onto the Clutha bar and that the pilot made no mayday call.

David Miller, deputy chief inspector of the AAIB, said: ''There were no emergency transmissions from the pilot before this accident. I can confirm that the helicopter does not have a flight data recorder. However, it does have a significant number of modern electronic systems on board and it may be possible to recover recorded data from those systems.''

Earlier today, firefighters, ambulance staff and police officers formed a guard of honour at the site two private ambulances left the scene of the tragedy.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited Scottish Ambulance Service staff in Springburn, Glasgow, to thank them for their response to the crash.

''It is appropriate again to say how much all of us are thinking of those who have been bereaved,'' she said.

''It is not possible to imagine the grief and the anguish that they are suffering but I hope it is of comfort to them that they know that the thoughts not just of the people across Glasgow but people across the country are with them.''

Celtic manager Neil Lennon added a wreath to the hundreds of floral tributes placed at the site of the crash.

The teenage daughter of Mr Arthur is a Celtic and Scottish women's footballer.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael paid tribute to the courage and character of the people of Glasgow and signed a book of condolence at the council's headquarters. A book of condolence will also be opened at Westminster.

Mr Carmichael also told MPs today that an interim report into the causes of the helicopter crash will be published as soon as possible.

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