Dozens of teen army cadets get into difficulty camping in Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains
Mourne Mountains

Multiple emergency services are attending a major incident in the Mourne Mountains involving more than 40 young people.

The British Ministry of Defence has said 43 Army Cadets between the age of 12 and 17 were camping and got into difficulties.

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

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 16 of the group are suffering from hypothermia and some with minor injuries.

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

A coastguard spokesman said initial reports suggest that all members of the group are accounted for.

The cadets were undergoing adventure training on the Mournes when the decision was taken to withdraw.

The spokesman 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 are on scene.

Also on scene is the Irish Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter, Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, PSNI and NI Ambulance Service.  The three helicopters are currently situated at Donard Park due to poor weather conditions and will support casualty evacuation as further information comes in.

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.”

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 is like in the high land?"

Claire Williamson