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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Mudslide rescue effort praised
Landslide in central Scotland
This aerial picture shows how the mud swept across the A85
A woman plucked to safety from a torrential river of mud which swept away a road in Perthshire has been describing her narrow escape.

Shona Maxwell, from Edinburgh, was among 57 motorists who were trapped when a landslide hit the A85.

Emergency services and engineers are assessing the damage to the road and have begun the clear-up operation.

Ms Maxwell said she only just got away and thanked the helicopter crew who came to her aid.

She told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It was pretty terrifying, I just saw loads of people running towards me at that point because we'd just moved my car in time or we would have been hit.

We're safe and that's all that matters
Shona Maxwell
"When we saw the people running towards us, it really was a mouth-opening moment.

"We were just grateful that we actually didn't get caught right in the heart of it and waited to be winched up."

Ms Maxwell said the speed and professionalism of the helicopter crews played a large part in calming the situation.

Neil Finch, a helicopter winchman based at RAF Lossiemouth, said the rescue teams were aware that they were having to operate low over the road and that there was concern that other landslides could hit at any time.

He said that after the intense rescue it was decided not to return to Lossiemouth until Thursday.

Fatiguing rescue

"The weather was so bad to the north, we didn't want to have to battle our way through the thunderstorms after having been flying for about five or six hours already," he said.

"Just being in the helicopter for that length of time is quite fatiguing and after the job we had to undertake it was felt prudent to stay here the night."

Many of those rescued were accommodated in B&Bs and private homes in nearby Lochearnhead and Killin.

Chairman of Killin community council John MacPherson praised local people for pulling together in response to the crisis.

Mr MacPherson said: "Everything was organised in the hall here, the emergency services did a wonderful job and the local people, including the WRI, doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, everyone just dropped everything."

Ms Maxwell said the rest of the day would be a waiting game to see if police could retrieve her car or whether she could return to it to recover her belongings.

"It's insured, we don't care, we're safe and that's all that matters," she added.


SEE ALSO:
Clean-up begins after landslides
19 Aug 04  |  Scotland
In Pictures: Scotland landslide
19 Aug 04  |  In Pictures


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