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Fears grow for missing fisherman

A YOUNG angler is feared dead after disappearing during gales near a loch where four men drowned four years ago.

MISSING: Michael Pringle was last seen walking on the A85 in the early hours in extremely windy conditions.
MISSING: Michael Pringle was last seen walking on the A85 in the early hours in extremely windy conditions.

Oban Coastguard stood down its search yesterday afternoon for Michael Pringle, 25, of Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, after he failed to return to his camp on the shores of Loch Awe, Argyll, on Sunday morning.

Although police and mountain rescue team members continued the search into the night, a coastguard official said the missing man's prospects of having survived the cold for a second night were "not looking good".

Mr Pringle had been on a fishing trip with his father and they had spent Saturday night at the Tight Line pub near the loch.

The bar is where Craig Currie, 30, Thomas Douglas, 36, William Carty, 47, and Stephen Carty, 42, of Glasgow, had been drinking before their fateful voyage in March 2009.

Michael left the bar before his father and was last seen walking on the A85 near Kilchurn Castle at 1am on Sunday, when the conditions were extremely windy.

His father reported him missing later that day when he failed to turn up at the camp. The pair had been pike fishing along the shoreline.

Oban Coastguard team was stood down just after 3pm, but Police and mountain rescue team members continued the search until later in the evening.

Iain MacKinnon, Oban Coastguard Station Officer, said: "We found nothing.

"There was a huge search around the side of the loch, the riverbank, and around the castle and then we moved inland so that we covered the whole area.

"Police divers have been in the water and the Oban Mountain Rescue Team was out as well."

"It's a long time since he was last seen, so it's not looking good."

On Sunday, a five-hour torchlight search of the loch shore was carried out by the coastguard.

Oban Mountain Rescue Team and the local Loch Watch team were involved in scouring the area for Michael.

The group was formed after the 2009 tragedy.

Mr MacKinnon added: "The weather was horrendous, strong gales and heavy rain.

"We were out for about four or five hours until about 1am on Monday morning.

"We have high-powered handheld torches and we used thermal imaging equipment that looks for heat around the loch, but there was no trace of anything.

"The search was confined to the shore because the weather was too bad to go out on a boat and it is the same today.

"The man and his father were camping at Kilchurn Castle, near where the Glasgow men [who died] were. They had been fishing together near the castle."

He said the men had later gone to the Tight Line pub for a drink but that Michael had left before his father.

Strathclyde Police urged the public to contact them if they had seen Michael.

A spokesman said: "Michael Pringle, 25, was last seen walking on the A85 near Kilchurn Castle.

"He is described as being approximately 5ft 9in, slim build with short dark hair wearing a green camouflage type jacket over a fishing type wader suit.

"Anyone who was in the area at the time and saw a male fitting this description or has any information is requested to contact Oban Police Office on 01631 510500."

In the 2009 tragedy, the fishermen died after their boat capsized in the freezing waters of Loch Awe in March 2009 as they tried to return to their camp near the castle.

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