50 rescuers' nine-hour student hunt in Cambrian mountains

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More than 50 mountain rescuers from across Wales battled atrocious weather for nine hours to rescue a group of students in the Cambrian mountains.

The seven Manchester Metropolitan University students were walking around the 752 metre Pumlumon mountain between Aberystwyth and Llanidloes on Saturday.

After 9.3 miles (15km), two students became too tired to continue and needed to be rescued, while four others got lost as the leader went to get help.

The four did not have torches or maps.

Start Quote

We only had sketchy information on their location and the phone signal in the area was poor, making contact with them virtually impossible”

End Quote Dave Coombs Brecon Mountain Rescue Team

The search for the group, who were mostly from Spain, Germany and Canada, ended at 01:30 GMT on Sunday.

Dave Coombs, incident manager at Brecon Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), said: "The weather conditions were atrocious, with gales, sleet and driving rain and too severe for search and rescue helicopters to assist.

"The first two casualties were located using a mobile phone app. One of the two casualties was suffering from hypothermia and needed to be carried by stretcher to waiting vehicles.

"She was treated by the Brecon MRT doctor who said that if she had been on the hillside for another hour, the outcome may have been different. The other casualty was cold but able to walk off with assistance."

At the same time other members of the five rescue teams had been sent out to search for the four remaining missing women in increasingly challenging conditions.

Mr Coombs added: "We only had sketchy information on their location and the phone signal in the area was poor, making contact with them virtually impossible.

"Also they had no torches, whistles or map and compass and were unfamiliar with the terrain."

Graham O'Hanlon, from Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team, said: "If the vagaries of phone coverage had meant that the smartphone application could not be deployed, then we would have started our search in completely the wrong place.

"It is unlikely that we would have reached the casualties before the effects of the poor weather overtook them."

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