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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Close-knit town wakes to tragedy
By Ken Banks
BBC Scotland's news website
North East Scotland reporter

The quiet Scottish coastal town of Kinloss awoke to bright sunshine and calming bird song on Sunday morning.

However, the close-knit community of just a few hundred people was cloaked in a sense of deep disbelief as the loss of 14 lives in the RAF Nimrod crash began to sink in.

Twelve of the personnel killed in the crash were from 120 squadron, based at the Kinloss station.

Local people who had not heard the news on Saturday night were faced with bold newspaper billboard headlines outside shops broadcasting news of the tragedy.

Kinloss entrance cards and flowers
Cards and flowers were laid at the base entrance

Already flowers were lying at the foot of the RAF Kinloss entrance sign, a poignant mark of respect to the crew members who had been lost.

Also outside the base perimeter cards with the message "miss you all" had been placed next to flowers and candles.

In the base guardhouse there was a clear numbness among staff as they struggled to come to terms with the devastating news.

The flag at the base, where more than 2,000 personnel are stationed, flew at half-mast.

Definite hush

The local population in the town of Kinloss numbers just a few hundred.

In the shops there was a definite hush as people bought their usual Sunday groceries and attempted to carry on with their daily routine.

Serving at the local petrol station, Annette Crawford said: "It's a shocking thing to have happened, obviously our feelings go out to all the families about this news.

"Everybody will know somebody that has been affected in some way."

Another local man said: "We just want people working on the base and their families to know we are thinking of them."

Nestled near the base is the Church of Scotland's Kinloss and Findhorn Parish Church.

The minister, Reverend Duncan Shaw, echoed the shock of the local community.

Reverend Duncan Shaw
Reverend Duncan Shaw said he was shocked by the deaths

Reverend Shaw said: "There is shock and disbelief.

"I am closely involved with the air force and the personnel.

"The mood is one of great sadness, not just the RAF community but the community at large, because the RAF has been in the area for more than 60 years.

"People are saddened by the loss and today in local churches people who have no connection have been expressing their loss and wanting to send their wishes."

Such communities know the risks attached to the job of flying in dangerous territories including Afghanistan.

However, that does nothing to soften what is the obvious blow of the loss of life on such a large scale that has befallen Kinloss.

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