Helicopter search for missing Ben Nevis climbers
A helicopter search has been carried out for two young climbers missing on Britain's highest peak as their families say they remain hopeful they will be found.
Rachel Slater, 24, and Tim Newton, 27, failed to return from an outing on Ben Nevis in Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands at the weekend and treacherous conditions have hindered efforts to locate them.
Heavy snow, fog and high winds - as well as the risk of avalanche - have led the local mountain rescue team to suspend ground searches until the situation improves.
An aerial sweep involving a Coastguard helicopter was carried out on Thursday afternoon however.
It is believed the experienced climbers, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, had been camping behind the Charles Inglis Clark memorial hut on the north side of Ben Nevis.
Elsewhere in Lochaber, a climber was killed following an avalanche on Wednesday and his companion remains in a serious but stable condition.
In Dumfries and Galloway, two walkers died after being out overnight on the hills and a third man is recovering in hospital.
Ms Slater's family have flown from their home in Canada to be kept up to date with the search on Ben Nevis.
In a joint statement with Mr Newton's family, they said: "We are extremely grateful to members of the emergency services and search and rescue personnel who are searching for Rachel and Tim.
"The overwhelming response from members of the public and the climbing community has greatly assisted the search effort and we appreciate all the support and words of encouragement.
"As the search continues we remain hopeful Rachel and Tim will be found and reunited with their families and friends."
Ms Slater is thought to have been wearing a turquoise jacket and purple helmet while Mr Newton was wearing a red jacket.
Relatives said: "As a family we urge anyone who was in the Ben Nevis area last weekend and may have seen or spoken to Rachel and Tim at any time to get in touch.
"We'd also like to appeal to anyone planning to climb or hike in the area this weekend to be aware of the ongoing search activity and to report anything they feel may be relevant - even if it appears insignificant - to police on 101."
The family of the hillwalker who died in Dumfries and Galloway also thanked rescuers.
Geoffrey Stewart, 74, died in hospital after he was found on the hills near Durisdeer.
A major search was launched after he and two companions failed to return from a walk on Tuesday afternoon.
They were found 2.5 miles east of the village of Durisdeer on Wednesday and were airlifted to hospital.
George Crosbie, 73, also died, while Bobby Thomson, 64, is recovering in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.
Mr Stewart's relatives said: "Our family would like to extend our love and thoughts to the families involved at this very sad and tragic time.
"Sincere gratitude and appreciation goes out to all the services involved in the rescue efforts and hospital staff at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary."
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team said it would be back out on foot "as soon as conditions allow to carry out the search safely".