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marți, 9 octombrie 2012

Brother of Noah’s Ark hunter finds personal items at his last known campsite

THE brother of a Scot who disappeared in Turkey while looking for Noah’s Ark has found items from his last known campsite.

Derick Mackenzie has just returned from Mount Ararat investigating his brother Donald’s disappearance two years ago.

The 47-year-old, from Stornoway on Lewis, had made several trips to the hazardous region in the hope of finding Noah’s mythical vessel on Mount Ararat.

But Derick found the first evidence of his brother on the mountain since he went missing on September 28, 2010.

Among the personal items discovered was a pocket telescope and a case, a compass plus a friend’s business card which had been used to hold sewing needles.

The breakthrough came as he was in Dogubayazit, the town nearest Ararat, making a documentary about his search for Donald.

The documentary, produced by Edinburgh-based Plainview Films, will be shown on BBC Alba and at festivals next year.

“I showed a video clip on my camera to the man beside me who had known Donald. The clip contained footage of my mother who looked at the camera wearing a sad expression. I said, ‘This is my mother, she’s sad because of Donald.’ When he heard what I said he immediately rose to his feet, walked over to some other local men and began to talk with them,” wrote Derick on his blog today.

“I sat there thinking, ‘Something’s going on here.’ Shortly afterwards, he returned to his seat beside me and said, ‘I think you will find your brother.’

“I wondered exactly what he might mean. A little later I was brought to a quiet place out of town and introduced to a man who two months earlier had found an old campsite high on the mountain.

“He handed me a bag containing a few items. The first item I was shown was a small light-brown coloured pouch. Initially, when I looked at it I thought, ‘oh no, not another red herring,’ because I simply did not recognise it.

“But when I opened it, I found it contained a little pocket telescope. At first it meant nothing, but as time passed, the more I looked at it the more it began to click somehow.

“All I could say at that point was, ‘You know, I think there might be something about this telescope, but I’m not sure.’ The other objects, the little bits of credit card with sewing thread wound round them, compass, someone’s personal card with sewing needles pushed through it, all kept in a little dust bag from a DeWalt power tool were all clicking.

“I knew that the dust bag was typical of the kind of thing Donald would use as was the personal card needle-holder. The Chunks hacked out of the sides of the plastic compass body were also typical. But I have a natural defence against raising my hopes and will accept nothing until I’m sure. Because of this these things though clearly clicking with me weren’t swinging me. Then I read the personal card: ‘Colin Macdonald, Newmarket, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.’

“’Now hang on a minute, this is proof,’ I said.

“It was strange. Even though the personal card had established it and the other things were ringing bells more and more all the time, belief was strangely gradual.

“There is something I would now like to point out. Two years passed before I arrived in Dogubayazit in my attempts to find out what happened to Donald. Ideally you would not normally like to leave it so long. The things that got in the way were marriage, job and family commitments.

“When I was first contacted many months ago about the possibility of going to East Turkey and making a documentary, I made it a matter of prayer, as I was concerned that it would be God’s will.

“The most important discovery of this trip has been the positive identification of Donald’s last camp site.

“If I hadn’t been there in person this would not have happened. The campsite was discovered just two months before my appearance.

“Had I come earlier the campsite would not yet have been found. God’s time is the right time.”

Plans are now underway to organise a search party to return to the campsite and find more clues to solve the mystery. Derick believes his brother was either killed by religious extremists, or had an accident on the mountain.

Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley is also trying to shine a light on the search for Donald.

Miss Lumley, famous for her role as Patsy in the BBC sitcom, is currently in Turkey filming her documentary, Joanna Lumley’s Ark, which will air on ITV at Christmas.

It is thought the actress will explore the existence of the Ark, after claims emerged last year that remnants had been discovered.

But Miss Lumley approached Derick in a Turkish hotel last week about appearing in the programme.

However, the 48-year-old widower and father-of-five had to turn Miss Lumley down, as he has entered an exclusive agreement with a production company.

Last month, it was revealed that former Baywatch actress Donna D’Errico is also filming a documentary about the Ark, after admitting she has long been obsessed with the subject. She too is trying to find out what happened to Donald, dubbed the “raider of the lost ark.”

Turkish rescue team AKUT mounted a search of 16,854ft high Mount Ararat in December 2010 - a hunt delayed by heavy snow - but failed to find any trace of Donald.

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