Coastguards aid crew of second stricken ship

Coastguard rescuers were standing by to airlift the crew of a 1000-tonne bulk carrier last night - only 24 hours after a helicopter winchman was lost at sea. The Minoan Bay was in difficulties in the storm- lashed waters off Scotland's northern coast. A tug was trying to fix a line to the Maltese-registered vessel in the Pentland Firth, off Orkney.

Meanwhile, coastguards were waiting for news that a body discovered in the sea off Shetland - less than 100 miles away - was that of Bill Deacon, a father-of-two from Ellon, Aberdeenshire. He was swept away after helping to safety 10 of the 15 crew from the freighter Green Lily, which ran aground on the Shetland island of Bressay, on Wednesday.

Mr Deacon, 50, was a relief winchman on the four-man coastguard helicopter operating out of Sumburgh Airport, Shetland, under contract to the helicopter company Bristow. He had just helped the last crew member off the vessel when a massive wave washed him overboard.

The second sea drama in the Northern Isles came only hours after the body, clad in winchman's gear, was recovered from the water. Coastguards said that, if the tug was unable to assist the Minoan Bay, the same helicopter at the centre of Wednesday's tragedy would be sent to help rescue the 24 crew.