Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Loch search called off for night

Rescuers at the loch
The search is continuing at the loch for the other two men

The search of an Argyll loch for two missing men has been called off for the night.

The two men, aged 45 and 36, went missing after going onto Loch Awe in a small boat on Friday night with two others.

The bodies of a 47-year-old man and a 30-year-old man were recovered by rescue teams on Saturday.

A fifth member of the party raised the alarm at 0345 GMT but thick fog hampered the rescue effort.

An RAF helicopter, Strathclyde Police, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the coastguard and Oban Mountain Rescue have been involved in the search for the two missing men.

The bodies were recovered from the water at 0617 GMT on Saturday. Both dead men were wearing lifejackets.

Chief Inspector Andrew Mosley describes the scene

The men, who were on a fishing trip, had been camping on the banks of the loch, near Kilchurn Castle, close to Dalmally, and were thought to be from Glasgow.

A police spokesman said they had decided to take a small boat across the loch to a hotel and left at about 2300 GMT on Friday, leaving one of the group at the campsite.

At about 0300 GMT the 38-year-old man discovered his friends had not returned. He then heard them calling for help from the loch and alerted the emergency services.

A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said that on arrival at the scene, which is near the A819, the fire crews could hear calls for help from the loch.

But as visibility was down to just five metres, they could not see anyone and a helicopter was unable to locate the men.

The men had been camping on the banks of the loch

A rescue boat was called out from Renfrew fire station, whose crew pulled two men out of the water. Both were wearing lifejackets.

The spokesman said: "The two men were unconscious and in a poor condition, sadly both were declared dead at the scene."

Insp Andrew Mosley, of Strathclyde Police, said: "The weather conditions have not helped us at all.

"We've been down to very, very low visibility on the loch which makes a very difficult operating environment for the emergency services, but also from a practical point of view, actually trying to see any debris or any other evidence that may be on the loch at this time."

Earlier, a police spokesman said: "All available means are being used for the search and the search is still ongoing at present."

Map of Scotland
The men were spotted in the waters of Loch Awe in the early hours

At a makeshift campsite where the men were staying on the banks of the loch, cups of coffee and milk were found beside five folding chairs.

Fishing rods had also been left out and there was a green petrol canister with their belongings.

The A819 was reduced to one carriageway while the search was being carried out.

Loch Awe, which is popular with anglers, is the third largest loch by surface area in Scotland and is sometimes referred to as "The Jewel Of Argyll".

It is also the longest freshwater loch in Scotland, measuring more than 25 miles from end to end, with an average width of just over half a mile.

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