Two men airlifted to hospital after Mournes hiking accident
Two badly injured men had to be airlifted to hospital at the weekend after falling in the Mourne Mountains.
One of the men is thought to have fallen between 20 and 40 metres in the incident on Saturday.
The two hikers, aged in their 20s, were out walking with two others when they fell during the descent of Slieve Bearnagh.
A team of 18 from Mourne Mountain Rescue was called out and found the first man "well below" where he fell.
Given the severity of his multiple injuries he was airlifted to hospital by a rescue helicopter from Holyhead in Wales.
The initial report to rescuers only indicated one casualty with a head injury, but a second man had fallen while trying to see if his friend was all right.
His injuries were initially thought not to be serious, and he was prepared for a stretcher evacuation.
However, his condition deteriorated and he developed severe hip pain.
Another helicopter, from Dublin, was called in to rush him to hospital.
Both men are expected to make a full recovery.
Mourne Mountain Rescue coordinator Neville Watson was one of those taking part in the rescue.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: "They were coming down a place known as the Bearnagh Slabs, which is more popular with mountain climbers, when they found themselves out of their comfort zone, as anyone can.
"Conditions can change very quickly and anyone can have a slip or trip and on this terrain the consequences can be much worse than if you fell in your back garden, say."
He added: "In this incident the cloud level was low and visibility poor.
"We think the first man fell between 20 and 40 metres and he was quite battered when we got to him.
"We always advise people to err on the side of caution, but accidents happen, there is always a degree of misfortune and bad luck, and that appears to be the case here."
Mourne Mountain Rescue is fully staffed by volunteers and the service relies on fundraising to keep going.
Mr Watson said: "We have a great relationship not just with the hillwalking community but also with the local community.
"In this instance we needed a farmer's field for the helicopter to land.
"But, while we give up our time freely, and we do have people from all walks of life working with us, the fuel and equipment and supplies need constantly replenished and there is a constant fundraising drive for it.
"Any Saturday, thousands would be on mountains and there is a real health benefit.
"Accidents are small in number, but when they happen we are there.
"Obviously we don't want things to go wrong, but when they do we are there."
- To support Mourne Mountain Rescue, visit its Just Giving page