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Search begins again for Scots botanist missing in Vietnam

The search for a botanist missing in Vietnam is expected to resume today after being abandoned due to heavy snow.

Jamie Taggart, from Argyll and Bute in Scotland, failed to return from a plant-hunting trip to the northern mountainous region last month.

The 41-year-old has not been seen since November 2, when his rucksack and passport were found at a guest house in the town of Sapa.

Local police and the British embassy in Hanoi were informed of his disappearance and searches of the area have been carried out.

Friend and fellow botanist Ian Sinclair, who has been liaising with the search parties, said they had been hampered by horrendous weather.

"The snow is continuing to melt, but there is a massive amount of snow damage to the forest such as collapsed trees," he said.

"The weather has been horrendous, with snow down to Sapa. This is extremely unusual as Sapa is upper tropical rainforest.

"A large group from the national park will be doing an intensive search once the snow melts."

A search due to begin today will concentrate on four trails inside the forest of Lai Chau and Lao Cai, he said.

Mr Taggart runs Linn Botanic Gardens in the village of Cove on the Rosneath peninsula and serves the area as a retained firefighter.

The community has issued an appeal for funds to help cover the cost of the search and a Facebook page - Jamie Taggart Search - has been set up.

Organisations and individuals have so far raised thousands of pounds, including six year-old Annie Ferguson of Cove who donated her £14.50 savings.

The botanist's father, Jim Taggart, found out his son was missing when he failed to appear on a scheduled flight home to Scotland on November 29.

He had arrived at a guest house in Sapa on October 30 and left on a motorbike taxi to explore the hills.

On November 2 his rucksack and passport were found at the accommodation.

Dr Taggart previouslysaid that he had received a handful of text messages from his son before contact stopped.

''I don't think he had got lost. Either something happened to him on his first day on the hills or there is some explanation we can only guess at,'' he said.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are still in close contact with the local authorities and are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."

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