Fears grow for British sailor missing in Dubai for five days


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The Independent Online

A Royal Navy sailor has been missing for five days in Dubai with mounting concern about his safety.

Leading seaman Timothy Andrew MacColl was last seen by a shipmate alone at around 2am on Sunday after arriving on board HMS Westminster the previous day. The ship, which had been on anti-piracy operations, has now left the Emirate while investigations continue about his whereabouts.

Defence officials say there is no reason to suppose that personal or professional factors played a part in the disappearance of the 27-year-old father of two children, aged six and four. His wife is expecting another child in October.

The Gulf State has not been the subject of any recent terrorist alert. However, military sources say it is looking likely that Mr MacColl, originally from Killin, Scotland, may have faced danger.

Mr MacColl was seen leaving the Rock Bottom Bar at the Regent Hotel in the area of Deira, a 15-minute drive from Port Rashid, where HMS Westminster was docked. His wife Rachael said yesterday at the family home in Gosport: "We are desperately worried. Checks have been made with hospitals, prisons, police stations, medical stations and mortuaries and there is no record of him and no sightings so far.

"I last spoke with Timmy at midday on Saturday and he was in really good spirits and looking forward to speaking with the children on Skype on Sunday. It is completely out of character for him not to contact us, and we are completely at a loss and going crazy with worry. We are appealing to the people of Dubai and reaching out to the large expat community to help us find Timmy and raise awareness in that area."

Mr MacColl is described as 5ft 8ins tall, of medium build, with short brown hair. He has a broad Scottish accent and was wearing a red Moto GP T-shirt, dark-coloured long shorts, and white trainers.

The UAE has been viewed as a potential target for Islamist militants, with its large population of Western expatriates, and bars and hotels selling alcohol. It has, however, largely avoided attacks despite terrorist-related violence in neighbouring states. However, the city was the scene of one of the most high-profile political killings in recent times when a senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, died in the hands of alleged Israeli intelligence agents in 2010. A suspect connected with bombings in Mumbai is also supposed to have been spotted there.

Robert Emerson, a security consultant, said: "There are lots of theories why Dubai has escaped large-scale attacks. The fact that it is a hub for transferring money may have something to do with it. The worry about this case is that the missing man is a Western serviceman and thus, potentially, a target."