Page last updated at 20:56 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Police name dead loch fishermen

Loch Awe at dusk
The search for the two missing men was called off for the night at dusk

Two men who were found dead in Loch Awe after going missing on Friday night have been named as 47-year-old William Carty and Craig Currie, who was 30.

Fears are growing for Mr Carty's brother, 42-year-old Steven, and his friend Thomas Douglas, 36, who are still missing.

The search for the men, who were from Glasgow, was called off at dusk and will start again on Sunday morning.

The owners of a pub on the other side of the loch paid tribute to the men.

Marie Sommerville, 56, one of the pub's owners, said: "They were just really nice guys. It's just unbelievable."

'Thick fog'

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 north 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 but thick fog hampered their rescue efforts.

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

The bodies of William Carty and Mr Currie were recovered by rescue teams on at 0617 GMT on Saturday. Both men were wearing lifejackets.

Police say Steven Carty and Mr Douglas are now missing presumed dead.

Mrs Somerville's daughter Anna Price, 33, said the men were keen pike fishermen who came up to Loch Awe almost every other weekend and had spent an hour in the pub on Friday night.

She said: "It was just a hobby, but they were anglers, they were really good and very experienced.

"They weren't idiots in a boat. They knew what they were doing. We don't know what could have happened other than the fact that it was so foggy last night."

Mrs Sommerville said the men would sometimes bring in fish as a gift. She added: "I think it is just a tragic accident. We wouldn't have let them leave and get in a boat drunk, no way.

Chief Inspector Andrew Mosley describes the scene

"They weren't really heavy drinkers, they just came in for a game of pool and darts. A lot of the locals knew them and the staff. They were very well liked and brought their husky dog in with with them."

She added: "They used to wear life jackets, they were well geared up."

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.

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.

'Low visibility'

A rescue boat was called out from Renfrew fire station, whose crew pulled William Carty and Mr Currie 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."

Rescuers at the loch
The owners of a nearby pub said the men would bring in fish as a gift

Inspector 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."

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 men had been camping on the banks of the loch

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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Loch search called off for night
21 Mar 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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