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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 16:11 GMT
Body found in search for children
Police have issued photographs of the MacPherson family
Rescuers searching for two children missing after a storm have found the body of one of the youngsters.

Teams had been scouring an area of South Uist for five-year-old Hannah MacPherson, who was still missing along with her brother Andrew, seven.

Police said Hannah's body was found and the search for Andrew was continuing.

They have already found the bodies of their 36-year-old father Archie and mother Murdina MacPherson, 37, and their grandfather Calum Campbell, 67.

The family were understood to have got into trouble as they left their home amid severe weather which hit the Western Isles and many other areas of Scotland on Tuesday.

They left home on South Uist destined for Benbecula in two cars to escape rising flood water.

Archie and Murdina MacPherson
Archie and Murdina MacPherson
They were reported missing on Wednesday and the two cars were found in the area.

A search was launched and involved a Coastguard helicopter and 12 members of the local coastguard.

Northern Constabulary said a full land and sea search was continuing on Thursday, with additional officers drafted in from the mainland and local people involved.

At a media conference in Benbecula on Thursday afternoon, police said Hannah's body had been found by a member of the public about 200 yards from her grandmother's house in Iochar.

The force also issued a statement from the Campbell family on behalf of their lost loved ones.

Calum Campbell
The children's grandfather, Calum Campbell
In it they said: "Their families and the whole community are devastated by the tragedy. The respective families would like to thank everyone who has helped and ask for their continuing support."

Mary MacInnes, headteacher at Iochdar School - which the children attend - told BBC Radio Scotland she knew the family well.

She said: "Although car lights were seen they did not actually reach their destination.

"One way or the other they would have had to travel the same road and there is quite a treacherous part of the road where the tide does on occasion come over. And that is what happened at this time," the head teacher said.

Mr MacPherson was a joiner with the local council and she believed the family left their home to go to Mr MacPherson's mother's home.

The MacPhersons' home
The family left their home on South Uist because of severe weather

Neighbour Katie MacDonald, whose house overlooks the causeway, said: "I didn't see it happening but the weather on the night was like nothing I have experienced in my life.

"The whole area was flooded and the waves were lashing across the causeway and the wind was enough to knock you off your feet.

"The area got worse when the tide came in and my car is also a write-off."

Murdina MacPherson worked for BBC Scotland's Gaelic department in a number of roles over several years.

A BBC Scotland spokesman said: "Although she left BBC Scotland to return to South Uist, many of her colleagues have remained in touch with the family.

"We are all shocked by what has happened. Murdina was a lovely person, a valued colleague and friend to many. Our thoughts at this terrible time are with the rest of her family."

Reconnecting supplies

Tuesday night's storms also caused widespread travel problems and left thousands of homes without power.

Scottish Water also had to work to restore supplies to about 3,000 people across the Highlands and Islands who were left without water by power cuts which affected treatment plants.

Electricity companies said that about 18,000 people were still without power, but were hopeful of reconnecting supplies on Thursday.

Linda Young, spokeswoman for Scottish Hydro Electric, told BBC Scotland's news website that efforts were continuing to repair lines.
Man in Oban

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

"At the peak of the storm, we had 85,000 homes without power with the poor weather making restoration difficult.

"We've got 650 men on the ground currently working on lines and the large majority of customers should be back on supply by the end of Thursday, with a small handful to be restored on Friday."

First Minister Jack McConnell has expressed his sympathy for "those who have lost family and friends these past few days because of adverse weather conditions in Scotland".

He said Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson was planning to visit the Western Isles and support would be offered to affected communities.



SEE ALSO:
Grieving relatives speak of loss
13 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Community shock over storm deaths
13 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Third body found in family search
12 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Chances of flooding 'rising fast'
10 Jan 05 |  Scotland


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