GLASGOW - A police helicopter smashed through the roof of a packed pub in Scotland's biggest city Glasgow on Friday and fatalities are likely, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said.
Emergency services declared a major incident at the Clutha Pub, where around 100 people were listening to a band play at the start of the St Andrew's Day weekend.
Witnesses said they saw the helicopter dropping like a stone from the sky, while people inside the pub heard a whooshing sound and then the roof caved in.
Police said there were two police officers and a civilian pilot on board the helicopter but did not give details of their condition.
"I can confirm that it is a police helicopter which has been involved in the tragic accident in Glasgow," Salmond tweeted.
"Rescue efforts in full operation. Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities."
An AFP photographer said the helicopter appeared to have smashed through the top of the single-storey pub on the banks of the River Clyde, with a rotor sticking out of the roof.
Dozens of firefighters and paramedics were swarming around the scene, with emergency services also apparently securing the wreckage with cables and a cherry-picker.
Jim Murphy, a Labour party member of parliament and spokesman for international development, told the BBC he was driving through the area shortly after the incident.
"I jumped out and tried to help. There were people with injuries. Bad gashes to the head. Some were unconscious. I don't know how many," he said.
He said he and other people formed a human chain to get survivors out of the pub.
"The helicopter was inside the pub. It's a mess. I could only get a yard or two inside. I helped carry people out."