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Search continues for missing Birsay pensioner

James Mainland.

Extensive searches are continuing in order to trace missing pensioner James Mainland, with a visible police presence in Birsay throughout today, Sunday.

Police say they are looking to follow up on a “potential sighting” at around 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon in the Midhouse area near to the Barony Hotel, on the north shore of the Boardhouse Loch.

This is an unconfirmed report from a member of the public, police say, who had spoken to an angler who had been fishing there and police are urging the angler to get in touch as soon as possible.

The 88-year-old is understood to have left his home at around 6.30am on Saturday morning and was subsequently reported missing to police after he failed to return.

Chief Inspector Matthew Webb, who is leading the search, said: “We are currently trying to establish if this was indeed Mr Mainland and would encourage anyone else with other potential sightings over the last 24 hours to please get in touch as a matter of urgency.

“A search team dedicated to finding him will be focusing their efforts in and around the loch today, with support from Police Scotland’s dog unit, specialist police search advisors and the coastguard which is also dedicating valuable resources. This encompasses some challenging terrain which requires specialist knowledge and skills.”

Chief Inspector Webb urged those in Birsay to check and recheck any outbuildings, garages or sheds, in addition to any docked boats around the loch.

“You may have checked these spots already however we are a number of hours on now and there is every possibility Mr Mainland is still on the move in the area. Please also ensure any boats you do have are still there.

“We are in close contact with his family as our searches continue and are keeping them informed of any developments. Our ultimate aim is to get Mr Mainland home safe as soon as possible.”

The pensioner has dementia and has been described as being unsteady on his feet. He is around 5ft 8 inches tall, of a slim build with blue eyes, short white hair and a short white beard. At the time he left home he was wearing a blue body warmer, purple top, black trousers and brown slippers.

Because of his condition, if he is approached by people he does not know, he may become aggressive so please be cautious of this.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 urgently.

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