Two shellfish divers die off coast of Isle of Barra

A coastguard helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Picture: John Devlin
A coastguard helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Picture: John Devlin
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Two divers have died after getting into difficulty in waters off the coast of an island in the Outer Hebrides.

Emergency services, including the RNLI Barra lifeboats and Coastguard rescue helicopter and Barra Coastguard Rescue Team, pulled the two men from the water at around 1pm but they later died at the scene.

Both of the men were aged 39.

One man has been named locally as Iain MacDougall, from Barra, who is thought to have had diving experience.

The other man is believed to have been his friend who was visiting the area from the mainland.

Police Scotland said the men’s next of kin had been informed and that the inquiries were at an early stage to establish the full circumstances of the deaths.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said: “Two shellfish divers have been recovered by the RNLI Barra lifeboat after a search in Castle Bay, Barra Island, this morning.

“At 11.20am Stornoway Coastguard was contacted by a local ferry boat skipper who had noticed two divers go into the water and not resurface, leaving their small boat unmanned.

“The RNLI Barra lifeboats were asked to search the area along with the Coastguard rescue helicopter based in Stornoway and Barra Coastguard Rescue Team.”

Western Isles area commander Chief Inspector Gordon MacLeod said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the two men who sadly died, as well as with the close community of Barra.

“I would like to thank the public for their assistance during the search and rescue operation.

“Inquiries are ongoing, although there does not appear to be any suspicious circumstance and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

It is the latest tragedy to hit the island of just over 1,100 people.

In May, 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod died in the Manchester terror attack in which her friend, 15-year-old Laura MacIntyre, was seriously injured. The girls attended school in Castlebay.