GLASGOW – The police helicopter which smashed through the roof of a Glasgow pub killing nine people was pulled free of the devastated building on Monday, as a fire chief admitted there was a slim possibility of finding survivors.
Three people on board the helicopter were killed and six died in the Clutha pub, where around 120 people were watching a performance by a ska band when the aircraft plunged on to the building on Friday evening.
Some relatives have criticized the speed of the removal of the bodies.
But Scottish Fire and Rescue Service assistant chief officer David Goodhew said crews had even tunnelled under the aircraft to try to find any casualties underneath.
He said his crews expected to find bodies in the wrecked pub, but would not rule out the chance that people might still be trapped alive in the cellar of the building.
“We can’t be absolutely sure until we’ve searched the last parts of the building,” he said.
“Once we’ve got the helicopter out that will enable our crews to get to the rest of the building.”
Goodhew said the flat-roofed pub had been “totally devastated”, complicating the rescue workers’ task.
“It’s totally unrecognisable in most parts,” he said.
“There’s a large amount of debris that’s underneath the helicopter and therefore you have to dig in slowly and methodically.”
The blue and yellow fuselage of the three-tonne Eurocopter helicopter was still largely intact as it was winched out of the building, supporting one theory that it came to rest on the building before the roof gave way.
John McGarrigle was one of the relatives critical of the rescue services as he waited for news of his father John, who was in the Clutha and has not yet been found.
“I just want the phone call we were told we were going to get from the police,” he said.
“I know he was in there, there’s eyewitness accounts from people in there. My dad’s been a local in there for years.
“I want my dad out of there, it’s like a piece of machinery is more important than the people underneath there.”
The crash cast a pall over celebrations on Saturday for St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s national day.