Clean-up after 'perfect storm' batters coast of eastern Scotland

Clean-up operations have been taking place in communities along the east coast of Scotland after severe gales hit on Friday night.

Strong winds, huge waves and high tides caused damage from Shetland down to North Berwick.

One oil worker died and 11 were rescued from an emergency standby vessel in the North Sea.

The Scottish government said a freak "perfect storm" had caused extensive damage in parts of the country.

Authorities described a highly unusual combination of tidal forces, strong winds, sea state and atmospheric pressure which brought conditions not experienced in some communities in decades.

Image caption Locals said the gales in Lossiemouth were among the strongest in the past 30 years

Waves of up to 6m (20ft) were reported to have deluged the Vos Sailor standby vessel. It is now being towed to port, as efforts continue to recover the body of the missing crewman.

Sea defences were swept away in North Berwick harbour in East Lothian, a 15m (49ft) section of the harbour wall collapsed in Lossiemouth and residents of a sheltered housing complex were evacuated in Stonehaven.

In Peterhead, the town's RNLI lifeboat launched in what were described as "horrendous" conditions during the night to rescue three people stranded on one side of the harbour.

The village of Kingston in Moray was said to have been completely cut off after its sea defences were breached.

Moray Council said staff had been working 24 hours a day clearing debris and making areas safe, along with the help of volunteers.

A report on Kingston is due to be debated at the council's infrastructure committee on Tuesday.

In Wick, on the far north coast, roads were closed and fishing boats were damaged in high winds.

Image caption Enormous waves battered towns along the coast of the North Sea

Huge waves caused part of the harbour wall at Balintore, near Tain in Ross-shire, to collapse.

The Scottish government convened its Resilience Room and said a freak combination of south easterly gales, low pressure and high tides had hit the north and east coasts.

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The weather factors that combined this weekend were a 'perfect storm' - with those in the communities affected describing it as the worst storm in living memory.

"While some coastal buildings and harbour infrastructure in the north east has been damaged, early indications are that we have weathered a hugely challenging storm well.

"The tragic death of a crew member aboard the Vos Sailor is deeply saddening and our thoughts are with the individual's family."

Ministers are due to visit some of the affected communities on Monday.

"Already communities are coming together with volunteers helping in the debris clean-up operation, in partnership with local authorities," Mr Wheelhouse added.

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