Footage from the scene showed the aircraft had crashed into the Clutha pub, on the north bank of the River Clyde. The crash happened at 10.25 p.m. local time (1025 UTC), with more than 100 people reported to have been inside the building.
Local member of parliament Jim Murphy, who was driving past when the crash happened, witnessed the aftermath.
“It’s a horrible, horrible scene,” Murphy told the BBC.
“I was passing and just got out of my car to try to help people. Everyone formed a chain of people from inside the pub to outside, and the fire brigade and everyone were here very quickly.” Murphy said he believed some people were still inside the pub.
A journalist present at the scene told BBC radio that he had seen the helicopter spiralling out of control before hitting the ground. There was no fire at the crash site and the noise of the impact was said to have been relatively quiet.
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said there was a strong likelihood of fatalities. “Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities,” Salmond said.
Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the helicopter crash in Glasgow – and the emergency services working tonight.”
Police Scotland confirmed earlier reports that a police service helicopter – a Eurocopter EC135 T2 – had crashed, with two police officers and a civilian pilot on board.
“Emergency services responded immediately and remain at the scene. Cordons in place to allow the rescue operation to take place.”
In an early morning press conference, Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Rose Fitzpatrick, confirmed that there had been “a number of casualties” but did not give further details.
A tweet from the United Kingdom’s Police Roll of Honour Trust read: “Our thoughts are with the crew of @policescotland SP99 helicopter that has crashed in Glasgow – hoping everyone is alright.”
rc/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)