Belfast Telegraph

Major incident at the Mournes involving 73 people after Army Cadets get into difficulty camping

By Claire Williamson

Dozens of young people were evacuated from the Mournes after Army Cadets got into difficulty while camping.

A rescue operation was put in place on Wednesday after 73 people - including 10 adults- experienced difficulties.

The young people from an Army Cadet force in Cleveland England were on an annual camp based at Ballykinlar.

The Ministry of Defence said the Army Cadets involved were aged between 12 and 17.

The Coastguard was contacted by the PSNI and Ambulance Service just before 12pm on Wednesday requesting assistance after receiving several reports that a large number of people were in difficulty after being caught in inclement weather.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service confirmed that sixteen of the group suffered from hypothermia and some with minor injuries.

An A&E crew set up at Annalong Community Hall to treat the walking wounded.

The Coastguard said on Wednesday afternoon that most of the group were being walked down the mountain to safety but up to 20 people may require stretcher evacuation as they are suffering from exposure.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Army Cadet group were undergoing adventure training on the Mournes when the decision was taken to withdraw as the weather conditions worsened.

Spokesman Ken Johnston said: "A fairly extensive support operation swung in and we are extremely grateful."

Newcastle, Bangor and Kilkeel Coastguard Rescue Teams, and the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopters based at Caernarfon and Prestwick attendend. In addition the Irish Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter, Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, PSNI and NI Ambulance Service also attended.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said they had been experiencing "woeful weather" and that there was a "substantial emergency vehicle response".

He said: “Such an incident will surely highlight the need for extreme caution when walking in the mountains especially on days such as today when weather conditions have been atrocious on street/town level never mind up in the mountains.

“I wish all involved a safe resolution to the incident and hope that no one is seriously injured as a result.”

Mourne councillor Henry Reilly said conditions are "unbelievably bad for August".

He said: "People are in winter coats, so if it's like that in the low-land what's it like in the high-land?"

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