LONDON • Scottish authorities say there are numerous casualties and people remain trapped inside a Glasgow pub after a police helicopter crashed into its roof.
Authorities early Saturday said search and rescue teams were on the scene at The Clutha pub in the city center.
Officials say a number of people have been rescued and taken to hospitals but that it is too soon to comment on the number of casualties. Scotland’s leader, Alex Salmond, warned that fatalities are likely.
Asst. Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay says rescuers have made contact with some people still in the pub and are working hard to stabilize the building and "get people out."
The crash sent injured revelers fleeing through a cloud of dust in what witnesses called a scene of horror.
Images on local television showed what appeared to be the helicopter’s propeller sticking out of the pub’s roof. Rescue workers swarmed the scene.
First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed that a police chopper was involved in the crash at The Clutha pub in the city’s center.
"Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities," he said on his official Twitter account.
The helicopter had a crew of three — two police officers and a civilian pilot, according to Scottish police. Police said the aircraft was a Eurocopter EC135 T2 and came down around 10:25 p.m. local time.
There were reports that people may have been trapped inside, but those could not be immediately confirmed. Glasgow ska band Esperanza were playing when the helicopter began to fall through the ceiling, witnesses said.
"It seems that the band are all OK. Not so sure about everyone else," the band’s official Facebook page said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as people rushed through a cloud of dust to get out, some with bad gashes to the head and other injuries.
Grace MacLean, who was inside at the time of the crash, said she heard a "whoosh" noise, 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."
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."
He called it "a horrible, horrible scene."
Gordon Smart, editor of the Scottish edition of the Sun newspaper, told Sky News that the helicopter "fell like a stone."
"There was no fireball and I did not hear an explosion," he said. "The engine seemed to be spluttering."
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow - and the emergency services working tonight."
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