Highlands & Islands

Manchester Arena attack: Scots girl still missing

Eilidh MacLeod and Laura MacIntyre Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Eilidh MacLeod (right) remains unaccounted for. Her friend Laura MacIntyre (left) is in hospital with serious injuries.

A 14-year-old remains missing after the suicide attack at Manchester Arena which claimed the lives of 22 people.

Eilidh MacLeod, from the Isle of Barra, has not been seen since Monday night's attack.

Her friend and fellow Castlebay Community School pupil, Laura MacIntyre, 15, is in hospital with serious injuries.

A crowdfunding page set up to help the girls' families, originally set at £2,000, has raised more than £17,000.

Police, the Scottish government and church leaders have offered support to the girls' families.

Eilidh's great uncle, Donald Manford, described her and Laura as "two wonderful children" and "treasures" who had contributed to the community since early childhood.

He said the thoughts of those in the community were with the families and the community "was hurting for them".

A special church service was held on the island on Wednesday evening to try to help people come to terms with what had happened.

The joint Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic Church service was hosted by the Our Lady, Star of the Sea RC Church in Castlebay.

Parish priest Father John Paul McKinnon said the community felt as if a "dark cloud" had come down in the island.

He added: "People are in a daze.

"We are at the edge of the world here. We are just a small island and the world has somehow come to our little island and it is suddenly at the centre of the world now."

The head teacher at the girls' school, Annag Maclean, said staff and pupils were "in shock, feeling numb and struggling to come to terms" with a "violent attack targeted at young people". She said all their thoughts were with Laura and Eilidh and their families.

In Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Police Scotland family liaison officers were in Manchester providing support to the families of Laura and Eilidh.

Ms Sturgeon said she was aware that there was significant information in the media about the girls, particularly about the condition of Laura.

She added: "However, their families have requested privacy at this very difficult time and for that reason I do not intend to go into further detail."

Western Isles Council - Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - said additional support had been made available to staff and pupils at Castlebay Community School.

The local authority said it was also having discussions with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) regarding the exceptional circumstances for pupils sitting exams in the coming week.

A comhairle spokesman said; "We are continuing to closely monitor events. We are mindful of the impact on pupils and staff at the school and are providing all necessary support."

'Great shock'

The Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Bishop Brian McGee, has travelled to Barra to visit the school and to offer support to Laura and Eilidh's families.

Bishop McGee said: "This is a time of terrible anguish for the MacLeod and MacIntyre families.

"Spending time with the relatives of both girls was a reminder of the human cost of acts of terror.

"Such acts leave families broken, lives scarred and innocence destroyed, my thoughts and prayers are with the families at this traumatic time."

The Church of Scotland's Rev Dr Lindsay Schluter, minister for Barra and South Uist congregations, has also offered support.

Dr Schluter said: "Barra is a small, close-knit community and therefore nobody has been unaffected by this tragedy.

"The events in Manchester and the way they have impacted on two families here has come as a great shock to everyone.

"People have been numbed by what has happened to the two girls and everybody continues to be very anxious about their welfare."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tributes were left in Manchester following the attack
Image copyright European Photopress Agency

Angus MacNeil, the former Western Isles MP, who knows the families of both girls, said that Laura's injuries would suggest she had not been far from the bomber.

Mr MacNeil told the BBC on Tuesday: "Laura is in hospital. She's alive, she's in a serious condition. We are still very worried for her, of course, the whole island is worried.

"We are very worried for Eilidh MacLeod. Our hearts go out to both families. It's been a huge shock to everyone on the island."

He said he had been to see Laura's grandmother who he knew very well.

"There's just shock and disbelief," he said.

Speaking about Laura, he said: "If we are guessing from her injuries, she wasn't far from the bomber."

He added that Laura was a great friend of his daughter.

"She's often round my house here," he said. "My daughter calls Laura's granny her granny. Eilidh is a good piper in the island. They are just both lovely girls.

"It's difficult for the community. People are trying to make sense of how this could happen - how you could leave a wee place like Barra and be caught up in this.

"It's very difficult to process and to understand and to find reasoning for it."

'Different place'

He also spoke about the impact on the close-knit community.

"If people here don't have children the age of Laura and Eilidh they will certainly know their families," he said. "They are feeling the pain of the families.

"This does seem a very different place to the world of international terrorism on the news."

The teenagers, pupils at the island's Castlebay Community School, were among thousands of young music fans who had watched a performance by US singer Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena before the attack.

A vigil was held in Glasgow on Tuesday night to remember the victims.

Image caption Tributes were also left at a vigil held in Glasgow on Tuesday
Image copyright Glasgow vigil
Image caption Wellwishers left flowers and soft toys in remembrance of the victims

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