Glaswegians spoke of their shock and disbelief on Sunday as they came to terms with the aftermath of Friday night’s police helicopter crash, and police confirm a ninth body has been found within the Clutha Vaults pub.
Throughout the day, a steady stream of people arrived at The Clutha pub in the city centre to lay floral tributes to those who died when the helicopter smashed through its roof. A total of 12 people remained in hospital on Sunday night, with three of them in a serious but stable condition. Police also named another of the dead as Samuel McGhee.
As darkness fell last night, firefighters and engineers continued to work to remove the wreckage of helicopter from inside the bar, but the complex operation to lift the main fuselage was not expected to take place until Monday at the earliest. Only two bodies had been removed from the scene by Sunday evening.
The First Minister Alex Salmond warned that “we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that there could be further fatalities”. But he praised the response by Glaswegians to the accident. “Tragedies do not define people, cities or countries. They are defined by how we respond, how we endure and how we recover. We have responded, we endure and Glasgow and Scotland will recover,” he said.
Neil Galbraith, a police chaplain who was at The Clutha within 20 minutes of the crash, said the outpouring of support from the community had been overwhelming. He said there was a tremendous feeling of warmth and support towards all those involved.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone. The public have been outstanding in their support and compassion,” he said. “I’ve seen burly men offering to help with the clearing of the rubble, while local businesses and ordinary people have been donating food, water, tea and coffee to help the rescuers. People just want to help.”
After visiting some of the injured in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had been “really humbled by some of the stories I’ve heard over the weekend”. “I’ve heard about the many health service staff who volunteered to return to duty without being asked and the members of the public queuing to give blood,” she said.
Among those who went to The Clutha to pay tribute to the victims of the accident were the sisters Ann Fauld and Nancy Primrose, who were in the pub when the helicopter hit. Still badly battered and bruised, they told how they had narrowly missed death and for a time each had feared the other had perished.
“We thought a bomb had gone off,” said Ms Fauld. “We were standing on the right-hand side of the bar. It was probably the busiest I have ever seen it. There was hardly room to move.
“Suddenly, there was a huge bang and we were covered in debris. I thought I saw a flash of an explosion but I later realised it was the part of the helicopter’s yellow markings. There was no smell of fuel or smoke, just thick dust, which made it almost impossible to see anything.”
In the confusion the sisters became separated and each thought the other had been killed. “It wasn’t until we got outside that we found each other. I collapsed in tears,” said Ms Primrose, who suffered a head injury. “Everybody started helping each other without thinking about themselves. There were some real heroes that night.”
As television crews from as far afield as Norway, the US, China and Russia congregated nearby, almost 500 people gathered in Glasgow’s cathedral to pray for the dead, injured and missing. Many were close to tears as the congregation sang the hymn “Abide with Me” and eight children from the local Sunday school lit a candle for each of the victims.
The Rev Dr Laurence Whitley praised the selflessness of the people of Glasgow. “We do not end this day in despair and losses,” he said. “Our great and vibrant and irrepressible city shall stand together with our suffering ones and go forward into the light.”