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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 January, 2005, 22:28 GMT
Third body found in family search
Map showing Benbecula
One man was found dead beside a car on the island
A third body has been found as police search for a family of five following storms in the Western Isles.

The bodies of Archie MacPherson, 36, from South Uist, and Calum Campbell, 67, from Benbecula, were found near a causeway between the islands.

Police said that the body of a woman had been found in the area, but had still to be recovered from the water.

Murdina MacPherson, 37, a secretary, and her two children Andrew, seven, and Hannah, five, are still missing.

A Coastguard helicopter was involved in the search for the family, while 12 members of the local Coastguard took part in the operation on land.

Northern Constabulary said that a full land and sea search would continue on Thursday, with additional officers being drafted in from the mainland.

Police said the family left their house in two vehicles from South Uist because of tidal waters and were last heard of at 1900 GMT on Tuesday. They were reported missing at 1200 GMT on Wednesday.

The causeway between Benbecula and South Uist (Picture from Undiscovered Scotland  http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/index.html
The causeway between Benbecula and South Uist
One of the vehicles was found at Iochdar and the other was discovered between Kilaulay and Iochdar.

The body of Mr MacPherson, a joiner, was discovered on open ground near the causeway on Wednesday morning.

Police recovered the body of his father-in-law from the sea later in the evening.

Storms hit the Western Isles overnight, bringing gusts of wind over 120mph and causing major problems on the roads.

Scottish Hydro Electric said there were 35,000 homes without power on Wednesday evening - down from 85,000. It is thought many homes could be without power until Friday.

A spokesman said: "Our engineers are making good headway but there were 1,000 separate incidents of serious damage to infrastructure."

In Hexham, Northumberland, there are still 10,000 homes without water.

Elsewhere in the north of England the River Tyne burst its banks flooding part of Newcastle's quayside while along the remaining stretch water levels remained high.

Buildings at Sellafield nuclear plant suffered external damage and staff have been sent home until Thursday.

The clean-up operation in Carlisle has only just begun after the city suffered some of the most serious floods in its history.

Motorway problem

Scottish Transport Minister Nicol Stephen expressed concern at the delays experienced by M8 commuters between Edinburgh and Glasgow after the winds damaged a sign on a gantry at Harthill in Lanarkshire.

The First Minister, Jack McConnell, and two other ministers were held up by the problem and missed Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

The Erskine, Cromarty and Kessock bridges are closed. The Forth Road, Friarton, Skye and Tay road bridges are open to cars only.

When the wind caught me I was thrown to the ground and my knees and arms are grazed and bloodied
Doolie Donald Martin
Guest house owner

Winds blew over a lorry, killing a motorist on the A1 near Burnmouth and in Tayside and a van driver was killed in a collision on the A90.

The Western Isles has borne the brunt of the storm with gusts of 124mph recorded on North Rona, while winds reached 105mph on Barra.

A Coastguard helicopter from Stornoway lifted 10 of the 19 crew from the fishing boat, Cibeles, which has been drifting without power 200 miles west of the Outer Hebrides.

There are plans for another vessel to attempt to attach a tow-line to the trawler, which is registered in Milford Haven and whose crew is mainly Portuguese.

Ferries cancelled

The ferry company CalMac suspended all its 26 routes between the Scottish islands and the mainland and advised passengers to listen to travel reports, use its website or phone 08457 650050 to find out the most up-to-date information.

However, one sailing was being made to Islay on Wednesday morning.

P&O also cancelled all its ferries between Scotland and Northern Ireland while NorthLink, which operates services from Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland, had also confined vessels to dock.

Deserted Stornoway
The centre of Stornoway was deserted on Wednesday
Trains have also been affected. First ScotRail had cancelled all services but by Wednesday afternoon, many routes were returning to normal.

All schools in the Highlands and Western Isles were closed on Wednesday and routine operations and non-urgent procedures at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway scheduled for Wednesday were postponed.

Coastguards in Fort William evacuated six elderly people from four feet of flood water in their housing complex in Oban overnight. A man was rescued as his camper van floated away in flood water.

'Fright of my life'

Doolie Donald Martin, 44, who runs a guest house in Stornoway, said: "At one point the wind caught me and I was taken along Cromwell Street.

"I got the fright of my life - I had been pretty confident about venturing out as I'm a big bloke of about 15 stone.

"But when the wind caught me I was thrown to the ground and my knees and arms are grazed and bloodied today."

Scottish Water said it had restored services to about 3,000 people across the Highlands and Islands who were left without water because power cuts had affected treatment plants.

Fallen trees

More than 200 homes were still without tap water on Wednesday evening and were receiving bottled water.

Supplies were being sent to the small island of Easdake near Oban, which had its water supply cut off by the storms which also swept away its pier.

One team of workers used chainsaws to clear fallen trees on an access road to the Assynt works which serves 25,000 people in Easter Ross.

Joe Moore, Scottish Water's general manager for the North West, said: "I'd ask people to think carefully about how much water they use. A little bit of conservation could help a lot."

See the damage caused by the storms in Scotland

Chances of flooding 'rising fast'
10 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Severe weather batters Scotland
08 Jan 05 |  Scotland


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