Mother of Scottish ark raider still holds out hope

Family picture of Donald Mackenzie taken in Iraq. He has not been seen since 2010  Picture: Contributed
Family picture of Donald Mackenzie taken in Iraq. He has not been seen since 2010 Picture: Contributed
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The mother of a Scottish man, who disappeared three years ago in Turkey while searching for Noah’s ark, says she still rings his mobile phone in the hope of finding him.

Maggie Jean Mackenzie said she continues to hope her son Donald might be alive, despite hearing nothing from him since he vanished in September 2010.

Speaking ahead of the screening of a new documentary telling the story of the search for her son, Ms Mackenzie, from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, said: “How on earth can he just disappear? I still ring his phone sometimes and I just get a message saying he’s unavailable.”

Her younger son, Derick, 49, travelled to Dogubayazit in eastern Turkey last year in an attempt to find out more about his brother’s disappearance.

Donald, a Christian evangelist, was 47 when he vanished. He was last seen in September 2010, on Mount Ararat, the Turkish peak where, according to the Bible, Noah’s ark came to rest after the flood waters subsided.

The mountain is a magnet for archaeologists and climbers, as well as Christians such as Donald who go in search of proof of the Bible’s stories.

He was on the mountainside alone, without a climbing permit, as the winter weather began to close in.

It has been suggested he could have become lost and fallen in bad weather or could have run into the Turkish army or Kurdish separatists who operate in the area.

He could also have been attacked by bandits or targeted for his Christian beliefs.

Two searches were carried out after he was reported missing but neither found any trace of him.

Mr Mackenzie travelled to Dogubayazit in the hope that he could achieve more as a brother than the authorities had managed to do themselves.

While he was there he found several people who had been close to his brother, including the last man to see him alive. He also found various items of his brother’s kit, which a shepherd claimed to have discovered in an abandoned campsite high up on Mount Ararat.

Mr Mackenzie hopes the new film will renew interest in his brother’s disappearance.

“If someone has done something and someone concerned sees the film, you don’t know what someone might be prompted to say,” he said. “It could be a golden bullet.”

Mr Mackenzie, a widowed father of five who returned to his family home in Stornoway after his wife Margaret died, said he hoped the film would put pressure on the Turkish authorities to take up a new search for his brother.

“I have every intention of making sure that the Turkish authorities see the film,” he said. “There will be a lot of interest in Turkey. It could kick start some response from the authorities to look again for him.”

He also suggested he may yet return to Turkey to continue the search.

• My Brother the Ark Raider will be broadcast on BBC ALBA at 9pm on Thursday.