Scottish copter crash: No distress call beforehand

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(CNN) — The police helicopter that crashed into a bustling Glasgow pub over the weekend did not issue a distress call before it came down, British air accident investigators said Monday as rescuers scoured for more victims.

The helicopter did not have a flight data recorder, said David Miller, deputy chief inspector of the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

“However, it does have a significant number of modern electronic systems on board and it may be possible to recover recorded data from those systems,” he said in a news conference.

“There were no emergency transmissions from the pilot before this accident.”

The wreckage of the helicopter was lifted off the building Monday. So far, authorities in Scotland have found nine victims at the site. They fear they will discover more remains as they gingerly lift bits of debris from the destroyed The Clutha Bar downtown.

“This remains an ongoing investigation and search focused on the Clutha Vaults pub,” Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said in a prepared statement.

“The site is extremely challenging and the efforts of colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and investigators have been painstaking.”

The Clutha was packed with about 150 people listening to a band Friday night when the crash occurred. Twelve of the 32 people hurt remained in hospitals across Glasgow on Sunday, and the body of another victim was found late Sunday morning, police said. The remains of the latest victim had not yet been identified.

After Monday’s operation, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service tweeted: “Helicopter has now been safely removed which will allow our specialist urban search and rescue crews to continue search of building.”

An ambulance, escorted by police, later left the scene. Firefighters, ambulance staff and police officers formed a guard of honor as the vehicles passed by.

Fatalities in helicopter, pub

Far more people could have been endangered if the helicopter had crashed and exploded just a short walk away in Glasgow’s central shopping district, said Gordon Smart, editor of the Scottish Sun newspaper.

From a nearby parking deck, Smart watched the helicopter tumble into the bar.

He waited for an explosion and fireball, but there was an “eerie silence” instead, he said.

A blast might have killed hundreds in the busy area, Smart said.

“It’s a miracle that more people didn’t die,” he said.

The outcome was still grim: two police officers and a civilian pilot killed, and six others dead in the pub. Among the victims was Gary Arthur, the 48-year-old father of Chloe Arthur, who plays for the Celtic Football Club based in Glasgow.

“RIP dad. You’ll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud,” she tweeted. “I love you with all my heart.”

The soccer team paid tribute to him and the other victims of the crash.

“He was regularly seen at Celtic matches, watching his daughter,” the club said in a statement.

The recovery operation will continue for “many days,” Chief Constable Stephen House of Police Scotland said. Police Scotland has appealed to the public for “any photographs, audio or video footage they have of the incident or surroundings areas.”

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Lindsay Isaac