NICOLA Sturgeon has said her thoughts are with the family of a woman missing after being swept into a river during torrential rain.

The First Minister made the comments after the “distressing news” that the body of Hazel Nairn’s dog had been recovered by searchers.

Nairn, 71, was last seen after being swept into the River Don, near Monymusk in Aberdeenshire, at about 3.05pm on Friday November 18 during heavy rain.

Police are continuing to search for her.

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Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Sturgeon said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of Hazel Nairn, who remains missing after the flooding.

“I know there has been some distressing news on that this morning.”

Inspector Andrew Meikleham of Police Scotland had earlier revealed the body of Nairn’s dog had been recovered.

He said: “Searches are being carried out from the area where Hazel was last seen downstream towards Aberdeen.

“Due to the deteriorating weather that afternoon, Hazel had been trying to get home safely from the village of Monymusk along with her dog. The body of Hazel’s dog was found near to the river on Wednesday.

“Local officers and search advisers are being assisted by specialist resources, including the dive and marine unit, as we continue to search for Hazel.”

Tess White, a Conservative MSP for the North of Scotland, also paid tribute to Nairn, who she said “tragically went missing during Friday’s adverse weather”.

The Tory added: “As the search continues, my thoughts are with her family and the responders on the ground.”

She also pressed Sturgeon on the response to flooding in the north-east last weekend, saying two of the pumps in Brechin’s flood defence system had failed.

White stated: “Improvements do need to be made to the organisation of the emergency response to weather events like this.”

The First Minister told her the main flood defence system in Brechin had held – saying without this there could have been “widespread and potentially dangerous flooding” impacting hundreds of homes.

She said two of the three pumps which remove water had not started automatically and had to be manually started by a local council worker.

Sturgeon went on to state: “Any time there is a severe weather incident like this we ensure any appropriate lessons are learned and that will be the case here, and that will be done as quickly as possible.”