The operation to recover bodies from the Glasgow helicopter crash has moved into its second night and is “likely to take some time,” Police Scotland said.
At least eight people were killed when the police helicopter crashed into a busy pub on Friday night. Another 14 people are in hospital with serious injuries following the crash at the Clutha Vaults.
Police Scotland confirmed that Gary Arthur, 48, of the Paisley area, is among the dead .
“Extensive efforts continue to recover the remaining bodies from the scene but due to ongoing safety constraints this is likely to take some time,” a Police Scotland spokesman said.
“As part of the ongoing investigation in relation to the helicopter crash at the Clutha Vaults, Stockwell Street, Glasgow, Police Scotland has confirmed that the body of a male has been recovered from the scene. The male has now been identified as Gary Arthur, aged 48, from the Paisley area. His family have been informed.”
Special prayers are to be said and candles lit for the victims at a service at Glasgow Cathedral today as the community tries to come to terms with what has happened. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is due to attend.
The Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond have expressed their condolences to those caught up in the tragedy.
Witnesses said the helicopter came down “like a stone” from the sky, hitting the roof of the Clutha when more than 100 people were inside the bar.
The three occupants of the Eurocopter EC135 T2. – two police officers and a civilian pilot – are among the dead.
Police have launched a major investigation under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
Members of the public formed a human chain to help remove those inside the popular music venue in Stockwell Street after the crash.
The area around the bar remains cordoned off as emergency services carry out a “rescue and recovery” operation.
Sir Stephen House, Chief Constable of Police Scotland, said rescuers are working in a “complicated and dangerous” environment and that the rescue operation will go on for many days yet.
He said: “This is a complex and ongoing rescue operation. It will not be a quick operation. It’s a very complicated and indeed dangerous scene. I pay tribute to those people from the emergency services who are working in and around the scene,”
It is not known how many people are still in the building.
He said: “We do not know that. We are still in what we are determining as a rescue and recovery situation. The helicopter is in there and it is dominating the whole space within the building.
“Until it is out of the way, we won’t know everything that is going on underneath the helicopter. We simply can’t say what the situation is at this moment definitively.”
He also said: “I have to ask you to imagine the situation where the helicopter has come down and is literally sitting in the middle of the building.
“Until that is resolved we can’t know everything that is in that building.”
Grace MacLean, inside the pub at the time of the crash, said it was busy with people listening to a ska band.
“We were all just having a nice time and then there was like a whoosh noise. There was no bang, there was no explosion. And then there was some smoke, what seemed like smoke,” she told BBC News.
“The band were laughing and we were all joking that the band had made the roof come down.
“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.”
Nine-piece Glasgow ska band Esperanza were on stage when the helicopter hit the roof.
Writing on their Facebook page, the band said they were “waking up and realising that it is all definitely horribly real”.
Helicopter operator Bond Air Services said it was “deeply saddened” by the incident and is working with Police Scotland, other emergency services and the Air Accident Investigation Branch as the investigations into what caused it get under way.
Steve Lloyd, manager of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, which remembers officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, said: “This is such a terrible loss of life. We know that it is so sad to lose a loved one at any time of year but I’m sure many of us will feel the loss is even harder to bear at a time when so many of us are preparing for Christmas with our loved ones.
“No amount of sympathy can ease that loss.
“The impact of this accident will be felt by all the extended police family and will yet again prove the dangers faced by the police in the service of our community.”