Political leaders across the UK today paid tribute after a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub in Glasgow’s city centre.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said it was a “black day” for the city in a press conference this morning.
“This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland but it’s also St Andrew’s Day, and it’s a day we can take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity and tragedy,” he said.
The First Minister praised the speed of the emergency response.
“We’ve also heard of the instinctive courage of ordinary Glasgwegians going to assist their fellow citizens in extremity,” he said.
“This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland but it’s also St Andrew’s Day, and it’s a day we can take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity and tragedy.
“That response from our emergency services and from ordinary citizens has been exemplary.
“As First Minister, it’s a day we can take great pride in how we’ve responded to this extraordinary tragedy.”
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, a Glasgow MSP, said: “This is a terrible incident in the heart of our city and our first thoughts must be with everyone directly affected by this crash and their loved ones. We simply can’t imagine the fear, worry and concern that families will be experiencing today as they await news about their friends or relatives.
“I also would like to pay tribute to our emergency services who have worked through the night and to those ordinary Glaswegians who helped immediately after the incident to get people out of the bar and to safety.
“At these times we should be rightly proud of those who instead of running away, walk towards danger to help their fellow men and women. We must pay tribute to all those who helped save lives last night and continue to do so during the rescue operation today, either at the scene or at hospitals across Glasgow.
“People across Scotland will be offering prayers and their thoughts to everyone who has lost a loved one, or who has been injured or whose condition isn’t yet known. My prayers and heartfelt sympathy go to everyone.”
Leader of Glasgow City Council Gordon Mathieson echoed Alex Salmond’s comments that today was a “sad day” for the city.
“This is a dreadfully sad day in my home city, he said.
“Thankfully these types of tragic incidents happen rarely but we always imagine somehow it’s going to be somewhere else. In fact, it’s happened in my home town in Glasgow. Like the First Minister I’d like to pay tribute to the people of Glasgow who instinctively went to help those who were in need. That is Glaswegians at their best and the thoughts and prayers of everyone in Glasgow City Council throughout the whole of the city in Glasgow are with all those who are affected and the deep gratitude will linger for a very long time. For all the emergency services, and the decent, law abiding people of this city who were just out having a good time with their family and friends at the beginning of the festive season.”
East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy helped survivors from the wreckage of the pub after passing shortly after the helicopter crashed into the pub which sits on the edge of the city’s Merchant City.
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.”
Prime Minister David Cameron offered his support to the Scottish Government and praised those involved in the rescue attempt.
“This is a tragic event and our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends who lost a loved one last night.
“I want to thank the emergency services who worked tirelessly throughout the night and I also want pay tribute to the bravery of the ordinary Glaswegians who rushed to help.
“We have offered the Scottish Government our support in any way we can and we are all wishing a speedy recovery to those who are injured.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband offered his condolences to people affected by the crash.
“There will be lots of people worried about their loved ones who are unaccounted for, and my thoughts are with them, and also with the people of Glasgow, who are an incredibly strong people, who showed last night in reaction when the helicopter hit, great bravery, great courage, great calm, in the midst of all this,” he told Sky News.
“I know they are incredibly strong and they’ll need to be strong in the coming days as they come to terms with what’s happened.”
He paid tribute to his fellow Labour frontbencher Jim Murphy adding that he had been in contact with him since.
“It’s part of what he’s been saying, which I think is right, that people reacted in the way that I think we would expect British people to react, which is to help each other,” Mr Miliband said.
“I know that’s what will be happening across Glasgow in the coming days as people comfort each other.
“This is not the kind of thing you’d ever expect to happen as you go out for drink or go and listen to a band on a Friday night. My deep condolences are with those who were affected by this.”
The emergency services are playing an incredible roll, he said.
“Whenever they’re needed, they’re called upon, and they act with huge bravery.”
The Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia held a Mass this afternoon for everyone involved in the crash
at St Andrew’s Cathedral
He said: “I was distressed by the news of last night’s incident in central Glasgow near our cathedral when a helicopter crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub,” he said.
“My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident. Prayers will be offered for everyone, especially for those who have died, for the injured and for the bereaved.
“May the gentle presence of Jesus comfort us all at this difficult time. Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland, pray for us.”
The cathedral is just a few hundred yards from the site of the Clutha. Priests from the parish were on hand last night during the rescue to help the injured and relatives.
Right Rev Lorna Hood, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said she is praying for people caught up in the crash.
“Already stories of those caught up in a tragedy forming a human chain to help those trapped show the spirit of the people of Glasgow and their care for one and other,” she said.
“The emergency services are to be thanked for their quick response and expertise in this tragic situation.”
Republic of Ireland deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore also extended his sympathy to everyone affected by the helicopter crash.
“My thoughts are also with the emergency and ambulance services who are still working to free those who remain trapped in the building, in difficult conditions,” said Mr Gilmore who is also foreign affairs minister.
“At this stage we have no reports of any Irish citizens being involved but our Consulate General in Edinburgh is working with the local authorities and offering any assistance they can provide.”