Boat tragedy `ripped heart from Iona'

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The Independent Online
THE SEARCH for three young men missing, presumed drowned, off the isle of Iona in Scotland resumes today after more than 100 volunteers and emergency rescue workers failed to find any trace of them.

Last night, as one or two locals spoke of how the heart had been "ripped out" of the island, most accepted there is no chance of the men having survived. The talk turned to when the bodies might wash up.

A hospital consultant in Oban, Argyll, said that Gordon Grant, 33, who swam to safety only to discover the body of one of his friends, had survived because of his high level of fitness.

His mother, Helen Grant, said: "We are a famous island but not a famous people and we would give anything not to have this attention.

"I am the lucky one - my son is the one who survived - but you have to understand I felt like a mother to these other boys, as well. It is a great pain we all feel. These boys were the future for this island and we have lost that."

Mrs Grant said the young men had run about together as children. "They were great friends and good people and this has ripped the heart out of our already fragile community."

Yesterday's search for the three men, Logie McFadyen, 24, Alisdair Dougal, 19, and David Kirkpatrick, 23, was assisted by two helicopters, fishing boats, rescue vessels and dozens of islanders. Steve Monks, HM Coastguard sector manager, accepted there was little chance of finding them alive: "It would be wrong to give anyone false hope by talking about finding survivors. This is a fishing community. It understands the situation."

Mr Grant has told the coastguard that the 14ft dinghy capsized after being hit by a large wave, stoked by south-westerly winds. As he and his friends fought to bail out their boat, one of the gunwales dipped under the water. None of the men - including Robert Hay, whose body was found on Monday - had been wearing life-jackets. "If they had been, we may well have had them with us today," said a coastguard spokesman.

The five men had been travelling back from a Christmas dance on Mull.

`Lost sons',

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