Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Avalanche brothers tributes paid

Eamonn and John Murphy
Eamonn and John Murphy [left to right] were keen climbers

The family of the brothers who died in an avalanche in the Highlands have paid tribute to the keen climbers, saying they died doing something they loved.

Three people lost their lives in one of Scotland's most serious avalanche incidents, which happened on Buachaille Etive Mor at Glencoe on Saturday.

The family of John Murphy from Portrush and Eamonn Murphy from Carrickfergus said they were devastated by the loss.

Brian Murray, 46, of Monifieth in Angus, also died in the avalanche.

The three killed were members of the An Teallach Mountaineering Club and among nine people caught by the avalanche.

It was only a millisecond before we were engulfed by the snow
Jim Coyne
Avalanche survivor

In a statement released through Northern Constabulary, the family of the two men from Northern Ireland said: "We are devastated by the tragic loss of John Anthony Murphy, 63, and Eamonn Francis Murphy, 61, in Saturday's avalanche accident near Glencoe.

"John is survived by his wife, two children and grandchildren; Eamonn by his wife, three children and grandchildren; they will be sorely missed by family and friends alike who loved them dearly.

"The two brothers died doing something they loved and both Eamonn and John will be remembered fondly as loving people who lived their lives with passion."

The statement went on to praise their fellow climbers and the Mountain Rescue and Emergency Services.

An Teallach Mountaineering Club, which has a hut called Strawberry Cottage in Glen Affric, described those who died as "great guys" and the incident as a "terrible accident".

Helicopters were called to Buachaille Etive Mor at 1200 GMT on Saturday.

Nine people, in at least two separate parties, were caught up in the avalanche.

Members of the climbing parties caught up in the incident
Members of the climbing parties caught up in the incident

Two people were taken off the mountain by an RAF rescue helicopter which flew them to Belford Hospital in Fort William. One man was pronounced dead on arrival and the second died later.

A third body was found later in the snow.

At teatime on Sunday, the police confirmed that there were three dead, the two brothers and Mr Murray.

Jim Coyne, who survived the avalanche, said the accident happened very quickly.

He said: "It was only a millisecond before we were engulfed by the snow and then the rest is history.

"We had to dog ourselves out of there."

Meanwhile, Bob Kinnaird, principal of Glenmore Lodge - Scotland's national outdoor training centre, near Aviemore - said people should still go out and enjoy Scotland's hills.

He said: "The important thing is the information that's available through the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and also the mountain weather service, both sponsored by the government through sportscotland.

"This provides information the evening before so you can plan out what you are going to do."

Mr Kinnaird said only a small percentage of Scotland's upland areas posed an avalanche risk.

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