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Tributes paid in Orkney following French lifeboat tragedy

The French lifeboat Jack Morisseau.

The three RNLI stations here in Orkney paid tribute after lifesaving colleges in France lost their lives in a lifeboat tragedy on Friday.

Crew at stations in Longhope, Kirkwall and Stromness, all posted messages on their Facebook pages following the news that three lifeboat crew from the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) died while responding to a fishing boat in distress in a storm.

The all weather lifeboat Jack Morisseau of SNSM, with seven crew aboard, suffered smashed wheelhouse windows and capsized several times, some 800 meters off the coast of Les Sables d’Olonne, as Storm Miguel swept in from the Atlantic. Three of the seven crew died, with the others rescued.

“This tragic disappearance provokes an immense emotion in the family of rescuers at sea and reminds us of the risks that take every day our volunteers, to rescue people in difficulty at sea,” said Xavier de la Gorce, president of SNSM.

“The entire marine community is moved by this tragedy that touches the heart of the volunteer rescuers of the SNSM,” added the organisation.

Here in Orkney tributes and respects came in from all three lifeboat stations on Friday.

A poignant post from Longhope RNLI said: “The thoughts of all at RNLI Longhope are with those affected by the tragic news from the French lifeboat service SNSM today. Such a tragic loss, we feel the pain of our French colleagues. RIP.

Kirkwall RNLI said: “Sad news from France today and for the SAR community, our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues of those involved.”

Stromness RNLI stated: “It’s been reported that members of the French lifeboat service SNSM have lost their lives today in a rescue. This tragic news is a shock to us all in the lifesaving family. Times like this remind us how perilous the water can be. Our thoughts go out to all involved.”

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