Ministers pay condolences to Clutha bar victims as investigations and recovery continue

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  First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute to the two police constables and the pilot, all crew of a Police Scotland helicopter, who lost their lives in the crash in Glasgow on Friday night.

As investigations and recovery work continued at the scene of the crash at the Clutha Vaults pub this afternoon, including efforts to safely lift the helicopter, Police Scotland named the deceased crew – Constable Tony Collins, Constable Kirsty Nelis and Captain Dave Traill.

As of this afternoon, there are eight confirmed fatalities – the 3 helicopter crew, with a further five within the Clutha Vaults, one of whom, Gary Arthur, has also been named by police.

The First Minister, who chaired a meeting of the multi-agency Scottish Government resilience committee this morning and will do so again this afternoon, commented:

“This weekend of challenge continues for Glasgow and for Scotland. We have known since Friday that fatalities were to be expected and that the devastation caused at the Clutha was of a significant scale. It is a difficult time for all of our emergency services, and particularly those police officers who have lost their close colleagues. The way in which the emergency services have responded to an incident of this scale is exemplary.

“The helicopter crew who have died were working to protect the public. Gary Arthur and the other civilian fatalities were enjoying themselves on a Friday night. These losses are keenly felt. I offer my condolences to the families of all four named by the police, as well as those still waiting for certainty as to what has happened to their loved ones.

“Constable Kirsty Nelis and Constable Tony Collins, along with Captain Dave Traill, worked to keep us safe. Their families can take pride in the service they have shown the people of Scotland – service that has seen both officers commended for their bravery.

“The rescue and recovery operation at the Clutha continues and, as the Chief Constable has indicated, the area from which the helicopter is being removed is a confined one, but we must prepare ourselves for the possibility that there could be further fatalities to come.

“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.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill both signed a book of condolence, opened by Glasgow City Council at City Chambers, after attending a service at Glasgow Cathedral where prayers were said to remember the victims.

The Deputy First Minister also paid tribute to the emergency services following a meeting with two injured victims and medical staff at Glasgow Royal Infirmary this afternoon, while the Health Secretary Alex Neil also spoke with Andrew Robertson, Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and David Garbutt, Chair of the Scottish Ambulance Service to thank them for their and their staff’s on-going effort.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“There is a deep sense of sorrow following the tragedy that befell Glasgow almost 48 hours ago. People across the city are feeling raw and for many it remains difficult to comprehend. These were the worst of circumstances; but they have brought out the best in this city and its people.

“We have witnessed incredible efforts by our emergency services, local authority staff and medical teams – some of whom I’ve met over the last two days. While their job is not yet over it is right to take time to show our sincere appreciation for their skill and dedication in the most difficult of circumstances. Equally we must thank all those who ran to the scene, passers-by and pub goers and the local businesses who offered their support.

“I spoke with two of the injured victims at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. They are recovering thanks to the excellent care they are receiving but they remain shocked and upset by their experience. It is important that they – and those families who have lost loved ones – are given all the support they need from the appropriate agencies, as well as privacy and space to come to terms with what has happened.”

Police have not ruled out finding more bodies in the rubble.  Attempts will be made to lift the fuselage of the wreckage free of the crash site later.