A 58-year-old man has died after a helicopter ditched into a loch in the Western Isles.

The AS350 squirrel helicopter, operated by PDG Aviation Services, went down at Loch Scadavay (Sgadabhagh) near Lochmaddy in North Uist and the alarm was raised with emergency and rescue teams at 10.15am.

It is understood the helicopter was carrying salmon at the time.

Chief Inspector Ian Graham, area commander for the Western Isles, said: “Firstly, our thoughts are with the man’s family and the local community at this difficult time.

HeraldScotland:

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

Police confirmed that only one person was on board the aircraft.

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

The AS350 Squirrel was working for the Scottish Salmon Company when it crashed but was not carrying fish, its owner said.

The company has numerous sites in the Outer Hebrides including a major hatchery at Langass which is near Loch Scadavay. 

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

The A867 was closed between Lochmaddy and Clachan Na Luib for over four hours

The islands' SNP MP Angus MacNeil 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."

Residents said the helicopter was used for tours to St Kilda and for work on fish farms, and was lying in the loch for an hour after it crashed.

PDG Aviation Services said: "We want to work with the authorities to help in investigation and find out exactly what happened."