Highlands & Islands

'Massive' land search for missing Louisa skipper

Chris Morrison and Martin Johnstone Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption The bodies of Chris Morrison, left, and Martin Johnstone were found after the boat sank while at anchor

Further land searches were being carried out for the skipper of the crab boat Louisa, which sank off Mingulay.

Paul Alliston was last seen swimming for shore after the fishing boat went down a week ago.

One crew member, Lachlann Armstrong, survived the sinking but his two colleagues Chris Morrison and Martin Johnstone, died.

Meanwhile the moderator of the Church of Scotland has paid tribute to men.

The Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, who is related to Mr Morrison, said his thoughts were with their families.

He said: "It was with a sense of shock and sadness that I learned of the sinking of the Louisa off Mingulay, with tragic loss of life.

"Since then, my thoughts and prayers, as those of us all in the Church of Scotland, have been with the families of those who lost their lives, and with Lachlann the sole survivor."

He added: "For me the sadness of this event has a very personal element as one of the crew lost, Chris Morrison, was a relative.

"Chris will be laid to rest in his native Harris today."

Mr Morrison was the grandson of the moderator's cousin.

Image copyright Alasdair MacLennan
Image caption The crab boat went down while at anchor

Searches have already been carried out for the missing skipper.

On Thursday, a search involving volunteers and several boats was co-ordinated by the police, coastguard and RNLI.

A further search was carried out on Friday and efforts were continuing on Saturday.

Police Scotland said they and partner organisations have been "overwhelmed by the tremendous response and assistance in the land and sea search efforts provided by the community".

'Pain and grief'

The Rt Reverend Morrison added: "Island communities are no strangers to tragedies at sea.

"One of the great strengths of these communities, however, is the way in which they come together to support one another, especially at difficult times such as this.

"I know that in every community of the Western Isles people will be grieving with and praying for the bereaved families. Such solidarity will help mitigate the pain and grief."

The Louisa sank in the early hours of last Saturday while it was anchor.

Survivor Lachlann Armstrong said the crew had difficulty inflating the boat's life raft.

Image copyright Alasdair MacLennan
Image caption The moderator said the communities of the Western Isles had rallied around the families of those involved in the sinking

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