09 October 2023

Search continues for elderly man missing in river amid flooding disruption

09 October 2023

Rescuers are searching for an elderly man reported missing in a river as heavy rain swept Scotland, causing flooding and transport disruption.

A search operation was launched at about 5pm on Sunday after police received a report of concern for a 77-year-old man seen in the river Tay near Strathtay, and resumed on Monday morning.

Flood warnings remain in place in many parts of Scotland although Met Office warnings of heavy rain which were in place over the weekend have now lifted.

Two severe flood warnings were in place in Aviemore/Dalfaber and Perth on Monday morning while 38 flood warnings and five flood alerts were in place elsewhere around the country.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 5.30pm on Sunday October 8, we received a report of concern for a 77-year-old man in the water at the River Tay, near Strathtay. Emergency services are in attendance.”

Heavy rain caused flooding in many areas over the weekend, leading to road closures and train cancellations which continued into Monday.

Network Rail Scotland said the Highland Mainline from Perth to Inverness, the Perth to Dunblane route and the Stonehaven to Montrose line remained closed on Monday.

ScotRail said disruption caused by flooding will continue for some routes, with services between Edinburgh/Glasgow Queen Street and Inverness, and Queen Street to Aberdeen/Dundee/Perth and Arbroath among those unable to run on Monday.

They advised people to check their journey on its app or website in the morning before setting off.

While the Met Office weather warnings for heavy rain from the weekend have now lifted, a yellow warning of heavy rainfall in western parts of the country has been issued for Tuesday.

Police Scotland said communities “faced some of the most challenging conditions ever” over the weekend, with 10 motorists airlifted to safety on Saturday due to landslides on the A83 in Argyll and Bute, which dislodged 2,000 tonnes of debris. Another four were airlifted in Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute.

Ruth Ellis, Scottish Environment Protection Agency flood duty manager, said: “It’s been a difficult weekend across Scotland, with severe weather causing widespread travel disruption to road and rail networks, and impacts in communities all over Scotland.

“Across many areas of the country there is still some deep-standing water and it’s really important people understand the danger. Hazards can be hidden, so please don’t walk or drive into flood water.

“Remember that not only is flood water likely to be dirty, 30cm (1ft) of fast-flowing water can move an average family-sized car, and just 15cm (6in) of fast-flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet.

“Our teams have been working around the clock with partner agencies, including Scottish Government, the Met Office, emergency services and local authorities, across this major weather event.”

The challenges posed by the flooding has been compared to those faced during the Beast from the East period of cold weather in 2018.

Stein Connelly, head of transport resilience at Transport Scotland, said: “It’s been an extremely challenging 72 hours, with perhaps some of most difficult conditions we’ve experienced since the Beast from the East.

“In terms of Argyll, the area around the A83 Rest and Be Thankful saw a month’s worth of rainfall, around 160mm, fall over 36 hours.

“Only a small amount of debris has reached the road at the Rest and Be Thankful itself.

“Safety inspections are now under way and teams are on site to begin clear-up operations once it is deemed safe to do so.”

Elsewhere, work is under way to clear other roads affected by flooding.

The Cowalfest walking festival, due to be held from October 12 to 16, has been cancelled due to the “unprecedented” rainfall on Saturday which led to flooding, landslides and damage to walking trails.

Cowalfest chairwoman Agnes Harvey said: “The decision takes into account the extensive damage to the Cowal landscape caused by flooding and the resulting health and safety risks to walkers and walk guides.”

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