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Violent crash of police helicopter into Glasgow pub claims multiple victims

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A Eurocopter EC135 T2 being used by the Strathclyde Police, registration G-SPAO, crashed into a packed pub in Glasgow, Scotland on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 at 10:25 p.m. local time killing three people aboard the helicopter and causing multiple deaths and injuries to those in the building, as reported on this date by ITV News, Sky News, CNN, Aviation Safety Network, The Guardian, and other media sources.

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The 4-blade main rotor aircraft was operated by Bond Air Services, Ltd., which provides police and air ambulance services through a helicopter support network to public safety, hospitals, the medical community, and fund-raisers in the United Kingdom. The specific mission of the downed aircraft has not yet been released.

Over 100 people were inside the Clutha Vaults, a bar located at 167-169 Stockwell Street near the center of Glasgow on the banks of the Clyde River. The crowd was listening to a ska band and enjoying the end of the work week on the eve of St. Andrew's Day, Scotland's official national holiday, when the aircraft plunged into the building's flat roof.

As many as 125 fire fighters and other emergency workers rushed to the crash site and gave aid to those streaming in a dazed state from the smoke filled accident site. Crews tried to remove anyone trapped in the building before the structure might collapse.

Chief Constable Stephen House confirmed that overnight 32 people were taken by ambulance to hospitals following the crash. At least 1 elderly man inside the pub is believed to have died, as reported by the Canadian weekly Estevan Lifestyles.

In addition to the three who died inside the helicopter, five other bodies were found inside the building, and 14 people remain hospitalized with serious injuries, as detailed in a Saturday morning Associated Press dispatch.

Eyewitness reports state that the helicopter was traveling at high speed when it apparently fell out of the sky and plunged into the bar. The facility is a dark, low-ceiling, traditional Clyde-side pub with an unimposing facade. It features live music five nights a week, mostly acoustic folk with some pop and rock groups, and is a frequent haunt of students and locals, always crowded on weekends. Onlookers have given accounts of seeing multiple injuries.

Statements by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service cite "a number of casualties with multiple types of injury." Many of these had been taken to hospital, while crews struggled to stabilize what is referred to as a "very unsafe building" and to free others who remained trapped inside.

The Strathclyde Police were recently merged into the newly created Police Service of Scotland. The centralized agency combined 8 regional police forces, together with the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Eurocopter EC135 is a twin-engine civil helicopter produced by Eurocopter Group in Marignane, France, and widely used by police and ambulance services, and for executive transportation. It carries a pilot and up to 7 passengers at a range of 395 miles. It has a cruising speed of 158 miles an hour, a top speed of 178 miles an hour, a service ceiling of 20,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 1,500 feet per minute. First introduced on February 15, 1994, over 1,000 of the rotary wing aircraft have been produced at a cost of about $4.2 million for each helicopter.

According to the Aviation Safety Network database, there are 36 reported accidents involving the Eurocopter EC135 from December 1998 to the present. Of these, 15 incidents involved casualties totaling 39 fatalities. This may well be the worst accident involving this helicopter type.

We extend our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of all those who were injured or perished in this tragic accident.

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