A MAN was missing last night after an open canoe capsized on a loch.

The horror unfolded as the worst storms in 70 years lashed northern Scotland. Hundreds fled their homes as flooding caused mayhem.

A mother and her son and daughter, who had also been aboard the canoe, managed to swim to shore and were rescued by police.

A huge search for the man, a 40-year-old German, was called off at 5pm last night. The four had gone out fishing without life jackets in the Canadian-style canoe.

An RAF helicopter from Prestwick spotted it upturned at the southern end of Loch Freuchie, Perthshire.

Police, who managed to haul the canoe ashore, will resume their search today at first light.

Police divers will be on standby at the loch, which is near Dunkeld.

The mother and her two children are from Meigle, near Coupar Angus, Perthshire.

Locals described the conditions on the water as the worst they had seen "for some time".

One said: "The winds had been gale-force since about lunch time and, as soon as that happens, the waves on the loch quickly pick up.

"It would be suicide to go out there in a small boat without lifejackets.

"The water is freezing at this time of year. If you get swamped and go in, you have little or no chance.

"It's a miracle that some of them managed to get to shore at all."

The three family members were checked by a doctor at the scene.

But they were taken to Perth Royal Infirmary after showing signs of mild hypothermia.