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Sanjay Nair
Friday, Aug 1, 2014

Sports

Postcard from Glasgow: The tragic scene that united a city

The Straits Times | Sanjay Nair | Friday, Aug 1, 2014

Floral tributes dominate the stone pavement outside the Clutha pub in Glasgow. Last November, a helicopter crashed into its roof, killing 10 people. The building still remains boarded up.

Next to the hotel where The Straits Times is staying is a poignant reminder of how a city separated by football and religion was united by a horrific accident last November.

The Clutha pub, on the banks of the River Clyde, was the scene of an unexpected tragedy when a police helicopter crashed into its roof, claiming the lives of the pilot and two people on board and a further seven patrons in the building.

It appears time has stood still since the accident, which was described by politicians as "a black day for Glasgow and for Scotland". The windows and part of the roof of the once-popular establishment remain boarded up, after a group of thugs reportedly broke in just days after the crash to steal a safe.

Along the stone pavement outside the slightly derelict single-storey building, tributes still lie alongside wreaths, letters and pictures of the victims. Tellingly, scarves of Glasgow's football arch foes Rangers and Celtic - the first supported mainly by Protestants and the second by Catholics - also hang next to each other.

Known collectively as the Old Firm, former players put aside decades of hatred and rivalry for a charity match in February to raise funds for the families affected by the disaster.

More than 100 people were in the bar at the time of the crash, which was attributed to the chopper's double engine failure.

The pub's Facebook page has attracted over 1.5 million visitors, and the owners have been inundated with offers of help from electricians, carpenters and plumbers who have pledged to rebuild it.

Restoring the place to its former glory, with a proper memorial, will hopefully bring closure to a day Glasgow wants to forget but will always remember.


This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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