Pilot dies as helicopter ditches in loch in North Uist

North Uist helicopter crash
Image caption The helicopter could be seen upside down and partially submerged in the loch

A pilot has died after the helicopter he was flying ditched in a loch in the Western Isles.

The 58-year-old man was carrying out work at a fish farm in North Uist when the accident happened.

A rescue operation involving the emergency services and coastguard teams was launched when the alarm was raised at about 10:15.

The helicopter went into a loch south of Lochmaddy. No one else was on board at the time.

The A867 road was closed for a time and flights at nearby Benbecula Airport were disrupted.

Police confirmed the PDG Aviation Services-operated helicopter, a AS350 Squirrel, was being used in an operation at a fish farm.

Ch Insp Ian Graham said: "Firstly, our thoughts are with the man's family and the local community at this difficult time.

"Our enquiries into this are ongoing and we are liaising with other agencies, including the Air Accidents Investigation Bureau, in order to establish the full circumstances."

Coastguard Rescue Teams from Stornoway, Benbecula, Tarbert, Scalpay, Griminish and Lochboisdale were sent to the area, along with Stornoway Coastguard helicopter, police and ambulance service staff.

'Devastating news'

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has sent a team to the Western Isles to carry out an investigation.

The islands' SNP MP Angus MacNeil has tweeted: "Devastating and concerning news about the helicopter near Lochmaddy in North Uist.

"Thoughts to all involved and those who are helping on the scene."

Local MSP Alasdair Allan said his thoughts were with all those involved.