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Saturday 20 September 2014

Glasgow helicopter crash: death toll rises to nine

Published 02/12/2013 | 07:55

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Another body has been found within the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow where the police helicopter crashed on Friday night - bringing the total to nine.

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Police Scotland have also named another victim as Samuel McGhee, 56, of Glasgow.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: "This remains an ongoing investigation and search focused on the Clutha Vaults pub. The site is extremely challenging and the efforts of colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and investigators have been painstaking.

"We can now confirm that Samuel McGhee died during the incident on Friday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends tonight as they are with all those affected by this tragedy.

"Sadly I can also confirm the discovery of a further body within the site. This takes to nine the total number of people who died on Friday night.

"Our absolute priority has been to locate the bodies of people who were within the pub at the time of the incident and recover them safely. This process takes time, as formal identification procedures have to take place before we can notify relatives and publicly confirm identities.

"We are doing all we can to support the families of those who have lost loved ones. It is essential that we maintain sensitivity and dignity for the families of the deceased."

Emergency services remove the helicopter's wreckage from the roof of the pub.
Emergency services remove the helicopter's wreckage from the roof of the pub.
A policeman escorts a young boy as he lays flowers near The Clutha Bar.
A policeman escorts a young boy as he lays flowers near The Clutha Bar.

Speaking from the scene of the crash, Ms Fitzpatrick said: "Six bodies in total have been taken to the mortuary and there is a total of nine fatalities confirmed at this point."

On how long it will take to recover the rest of the bodies, she said: "It is still a very complex scene and a very dangerous scene.

"Work will be going on throughout the night to stabilise the scene in order to continue to progress the search and recovery."

Among the four other deceased victims who have been named are the pilot and two constables who were on board the Bond-operated Eurocopter EC135 police helicopter when it went silent and "dropped like stone" on to the roof of the pub, according to eyewitnesses.

Pilot David Traill, 51, died along with officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43, as they returned from a police operation.

Gary Arthur, 48, from Paisley, was among those inside the bar who died.

His daughter, Celtic and Scottish women's footballer Chloe Arthur, 18, paid tribute to him on Twitter, writing "you'll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud, I love you with all my heart."

The four other victims who were in the busy pub have not yet been identified.

Police have warned that more bodies could be recovered from the wreckage.

Rescuers are still at the scene and the painstaking task of removing the remains of the helicopter is under way.

The popular venue, sitting close to the River Clyde, was hosting live music on Friday night and was packed with more than 100 people when the tragedy happened at 10.25pm.

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

Air accident experts have launched an investigation into what caused the helicopter to crash.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: "Until the helicopter is completely removed from the scene and the right people are in the premises and are able to look through the rubble completely and start to clear it, we cannot say about exact numbers.

"No one will be putting pressure on them in terms of time but things are proceeding, we are making progress and I know that people want to be reassured of that.

"It may appear that it's not going as fast as people want. The answer is it's painstaking and it's important that everything there is treated with the courtesy and respect it deserves."

He said that both constables were members of the helicopter unit and had both previously been commended for acts of bravery.

Today Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael will visit the city to meet emergency service personnel before signing the book of condolence at Glasgow City Chambers.

Yesterday hundreds of people attended a service at Glasgow Cathedral, near the Royal Infirmary, where prayers were said and candles were lit for those caught up in the crash.

Condolences came from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall yesterday, the day after messages of support from the Queen and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited some of those who were injured in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and said she felt humbled by the stories she had heard of off duty medical staff reporting for duty in the crash aftermath and members of the public queuing up to give blood the following morning.

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