Highlands & Islands

Western Isles flotilla searches for missing Louisa skipper

Crab boat Louisa Image copyright Alasdair MacLennan
Image caption The Louisa sank while at anchor

A flotilla of boats is taking part in a search for the skipper of the Louisa, which sank of Mingulay.

Paul Alliston, who is also known locally as Paul MacMillan, was last seen swimming for land after the fishing boat went down on Saturday.

One member of the crew, Lachlann Armstrong, was rescued but his colleagues Chris Morrison and Martin Johnstone died.

A large number of people have volunteered to take part in the search.

The operation is being co-ordinated by the police, coastguard and RNLI.

It will include a coastal search around Mingulay, Sandray, Berneray and Pabbay.

The owners of the Louisa, Duncan and Murdo Kennedy, will be among those taking part.

Extensive search

Duncan MacInnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fisherman's Association, said: "The owners are to be joined by fishermen from Lewis, Harris and Uist with a number of vessels going down as well.

"There'll be an extensive shore and sea search to see whether the last remaining member of the crew, skipper Paul MacMillan's body can be recovered.

"We're hoping if that can be done that at least it would give some closure to his family in what has been the worst tragedy that we've experienced here in the Western Isles for the last 60 years."

The boat sank while at anchor in the early hours of Saturday.

Lachlann Armstrong, who started to swim for shore with Mr MacMillan, was rescued after reaching Mingulay.

The bodies of Chris Morrison, 27, from Harris, and Martin Johnstone, 29, from Caithness, were recovered later.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has begun an investigation into the sinking.

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