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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 January, 2005, 14:04 GMT
MSP speaks of island deaths grief
Andrew and Hannah MacPherson
Andrew and Hannah died with the parents and grandfather
The MSP for the Western Isles has been speaking about the "awful tragedy" which saw five members of a family killed in a storm earlier this week.

Alasdair Morrison said island and fishing communities have always had to deal with weather-related tragedy.

However, he said the deaths of Archie and Murdina MacPherson, their children Andrew and Hannah and grandfather Calum Campbell were hard to bear.

Mr Morrison said the community was united in its grief.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Newsweek programme, Mr Morrison said island and fishing communities "are all too often reminded" of the dangers of the sea.

He said: "We lose fishermen on regular occasions which is a sad reality of an island community but to have three generations lost in an awful tragedy is something that no-one's prepared for, certainly one family is never prepared for it, and certainly a community never expected it to happen."

Sadly Archie and Murdina came back to bring their children up in a safer environment and now we know how it all came to an end
Alasdair Morrison
Western Isles MSP

Mr and Mrs MacPherson, their children and Mrs MacPherson's father left their home on South Uist on Tuesday evening to escape the flood waters caused by a severe and prolonged storm.

The family group was travelling in two cars which were swept away by waves which hit the road they were travelling on.

The bodies of Mr MacPherson, 36, Mrs MacPherson, 37, and her father Mr Campbell, 67, were found on Wednesday.

Five-year-old Hannah's body was found on Thursday and search teams recovered seven-year-old Andrew's body on Friday.

Archie and Murdina MacPherson
Archie and Murdina MacPherson returned to South Uist

It emerged that the couple had spent some years living on the mainland but returned to raise their children in what they believed to be a safer environment.

Mr Morrison said there was a "cruel irony" in what happened to them.

He said: "Young Murdina and Archie were typical islanders. They were born and brought up in Benbecula and South Uist, educated in the islands, they left and they came back and the cruel irony is that they came back to bring up their children in a safer environment.

"Calum, the grandfather, was a music teacher, an excellent piper and for years he taught in the schools in the Uists.

"Sadly Archie and Murdina came back to bring their children up in a safer environment and now we know how it all came to an end."

He said thoughts were very much with the victims' families and with the pupils and staff of Iochdar school, which the children attended.

'Compassionate and dedicated'

Mr Morrison said: "The doors of the school open on Monday and I fully appreciate the enormous task that faces Mary MacInnes, who is a phenomenal lady.

"She and her staff will do that very delicate job over the next days, weeks and months.

"You can't prepare a family or a community for the type of tragedy that's occurred but I've known Mary MacInnes for many years and I've known some of the staff all my life.

"They are preparing for Monday and I know that they are compassionate, dedicated and unflinchingly professional individuals.

"They will deal with the situation that they face on Monday and they will do that in a straightforward manner."

Prayers will be said for the victims of the storm at services in the Western Isles on Sunday.

Body of young storm victim found
14 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Body found in search for children
13 Jan 05 |  Scotland
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

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