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Police Helicopter Crashes Into Glasgow Pub; At Least 8 Dead

(This post was last updated at 11:42 a.m. ET.)

A police helicopter crashed into a bar in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday night, leaving at least eight dead and an unknown number of patrons trapped inside the building.

Throughout this morning, emergency crews have been sifting through the wreckage in search for survivors.

During a press conference in this afternoon, Scotland police said the three people aboard the helicopter were killed and five others in the club also died as a result of the crash.

The AP reports:

"The Clutha pub, near the banks of the River Clyde, was packed Friday night and a ska band was in full swing when the chopper slammed through the roof.

"Search and rescue teams are hoping to find survivors even though police couldn't say for sure whether people were still trapped inside the pub. The crash happened on the eve of St. Andrew's Day, Scotland's official national holiday.

"'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,' Scottish leader said, later ordering that flags outside government buildings be flown at half-staff."

The Telegraph quotes witnesses as saying the rotors on the helicopter stopped spinning and the aircraft came crashing onto the pub.

"There was a loud spluttering noise, almost like a car running out of petrol," The Telegraph quotes Gordon Smart as saying. "I looked up and saw the helicopter tumbling over itself as it fell on a steep trajectory but there were no flames."

The Guardian reports that dozens of victims were taken to local hospitals and across the city, there is a rush by family members and friends to find loved ones.

John McGarrigle, 38, has been waiting for 12 hours for some news of his dad, John Sr. He told The Guardian:

"As soon as I heard what had happened I just knew that my dad was dead. They haven't confirmed that yet, but he's a regular and it came through right at his usual spot. I just know he's dead.

"He had friends with him. One of them stepped outside just before it hit, the other went to the toilet. That's what saved them. I would have been there sitting right next to him if I hadn't met my girlfriend earlier in the night.

"I've been trying all night to get news. My sister went to his house and he wasn't there. We've been to all the hospitals and he wasn't there. I called the helpline – it took 45 minutes to get through and they asked me what he was wearing, if he had any little scars or anything and said they'd call me back.

"I'm devastated. I'm blinking back tears, but there's a good bit of anger, too. I'm frustrated at the lack of information and just the way I was spoken to. I want to know where my dad is – where his body is.

"He was a brilliant guy. He's a writer, he raised three kids on his own and he's a grandfather too."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.